'Big bonus for us': Castleford Tigers confirm signing of Leeds Rhinos half-back Blake Austin in sensational swoop

Castleford Tigers have signed Leeds Rhinos half-back Blake Austin in a sensational swoop ahead of Friday's transfer deadline.

The Australian has joined the relegation-threatened Tigers on loan for the final seven rounds of the Super League season, signalling the end of his time at Headingley after failing to agree a new deal.

Austin's future has been the subject of intense speculation in recent months, with the half-back making it clear that his preference was to extend his stay with the Rhinos.

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However, no contract was forthcoming and the 32-year-old has been given the green light to join Castleford's fight for survival.

The Tigers have been the busiest club in Super League in the run-up to the deadline, adding Austin to the signings of Jordan Johnstone, Alex Foster, Liam Horne, Charbel Tasipale and Billy Tsikrikas.

Austin has not been registered in time for tomorrow's home clash with Huddersfield Giants, meaning a likely debut against Wakefield Trinity in the August 18 relegation four-pointer at Belle Vue.

“We are really pleased to get Blake in at this point in the season," said Last, whose Castleford side are level on points with Wakefield at the bottom.

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"He is someone with a massive amount of experience in the NRL and in Super League who has proven himself as one of the top players in his position.

Blake Austin has swapped Leeds for Castleford in a shock switch. (Photo: Ed Sykes/SWpix.com)Blake Austin has swapped Leeds for Castleford in a shock switch. (Photo: Ed Sykes/SWpix.com)
Blake Austin has swapped Leeds for Castleford in a shock switch. (Photo: Ed Sykes/SWpix.com)

"His knowledge of the game and rugby brain will be a big bonus for us as we aim to finish the season strongly.”

Tigers director of rugby operations Danny Wilson added: “Blake is a very exciting player who is of a very high calibre, and we know what he can do when he’s at his best.

"We hope that he can come in and help us in our fight and be a point of difference.

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"In terms of the deal, it was a really quick one because we heard late on that Blake could be available and we acted as quickly as we could. I’d like to thank Leeds and his agent for supporting us on this move. We know he will come in and give his all for Cas Tigers.“It’s exciting news for the fans as well and I think they will all get behind him and the team to have a really positive end to the season.”

Austin's departure leaves Leeds light in the spine with Richie Myler reportedly out for the season with a foot injury.

The Rhinos have the scope to bring in an overseas player after freeing up a quota space.

"Leeds Rhinos have agreed to a request from Blake Austin to allow him to join Castleford Tigers for the remainder of the 2023 season on loan," read a club tweet.

"Good luck to Blake and thank you to him for all his efforts in blue and amber."

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