Zak Hardaker suggests Blake Austin was forced out of Leeds Rhinos

A year ago Zak Hardaker was spearheading a revival at Leeds Rhinos after leaving Wigan Warriors behind in the middle of the season.

Hardaker arrived at Leeds when they were in a relegation battle but ended up playing in a Grand Final.

The fullback / centre wanted to stay at the club in 2023 but when a deal couldn’t be agreed found himself at Leigh Leopards for this year and as Leeds struggle he has worked wonders at Leigh.

Now another of last year’s Grand Finalists at Headingley has left in the shape of Blake Austin.

It comes after he made some controversial comments including about Leeds Chief Executive Gary Hetherington.

Hardaker suggested that his former teammate was kicked out of the club after his comments.

Hardaker said on The Fully Game podcast: “I think he can do it on his day, yeah. To be fair, he was the best player for Leeds for the last 6 or 8 weeks.

“Funny enough, before we played Leeds we previewed Blake Austin and Richie Myler’s as their two main threats. Richie Myler broke his toe and Blake Austin got let go or whatever happened there.

“Funny enough he did a podcast with someone and he kind spilt some beans that you probably shouldn’t have spilt. I thought it might bite him on the arse.

“Whether they come to a mutual agreement or what? I really don’t know. But yeah, he said some things about the owner Gary Hetherington.

“I think he just said what he might have done right or might have done wrong. I know Gary from, I’ve been at Leeds for years so I was like, I don’t think Gary will like that. A week later and he’s not there so take that for what you will.”

Austin has joined another of Hardaker’s former clubs in the shape of Castleford Tigers and is tasked with saving them from relegation.

Given Hardaker seems to achieve success wherever he goes, there is an argument to be made that these struggling clubs should have done more to keep him.

He is now chasing a spot in the top two with Leigh.