Leeds Rhinos stand-off Blake Austin has commented on the “disappointment” that was the week long build up to his first appearance in a Grand Final.
The Rhinos made a superb turnaround in their season upon the arrival of head coach Rohan Smith, jumping from 11th to 5th and being one of the hottest form teams in the league over that 19 game period.
As a result of this form the Rhinos secured play-off rugby league and they powered to the Grand Final, with Austin and co taking on reigning champions St Helens at the Theatre of Dreams.
Austin told Trot The Egg In podcast: “By the back end we got to the finals and we were the team that no one wanted to play and we sort of proved why. Obviously going to Old Trafford is great and it was a great experience even though we lost, but it’s pretty difficult to go there and not win. I think that game is far enough behind us that we can look back and say it was a pretty successful year in the end and hopefully something we can build on heading into next year.”
When asked about the week building up to the Grand Final where Austin was set to play, as opposed to the Challenge Cup final in his time at Warrington where he was unavailable for selection, Austin details the differences but also the anti-climatic nature of it.
“I never played in a Grand Final in Australia but I grew up a pretty big fan. I was an Eels fan so I’d watched them go to two grand finals and the buzz around the town in Australia is huge. There’s things on all week, and then we got to a Grand Final here and to be honest it was a bit of a let down.” reveals Austin.
“There’s nothing on here, it’s like a normal week. You train three times, there’s no one at training, there’s no fans, there’s no media. It didn’t feel like a Grand Final week, maybe that was good in itself because there wasn’t any nerves but it just didn’t feel any different and if there’s one thing I think the Super League can do a bit better is then let’s build it. The game is at Old Trafford, let’s sell the game in Manchester all week.”
Austin summarises quite simply, “The week was really disappointing if I’m honest” and that “it was no different to any other week”. Unfortunately for him the week would get worse with the Rhinos losing to four-time consecutive champions St Helens in Kristian Woolf’s final game in charge.