Blake Austin opens up on sudden Leeds Rhinos exit as he chases new Super League contract
The Australian's future had been the subject of intense speculation with Austin making no secret of his desire to remain at Headingley beyond the end of his existing deal, which expires later this year.
Austin has rubbished the suggestion that he was holding out for a two-year contract and the Rhinos were only willing to offer one, stressing that the club did not put their cards on the table at any point.
"I received a phone call at 9.30pm on a Wednesday night and it was Gareth Widdop asking if I'd be interested in giving them a hand," said Austin.
"I said I wasn't sure if Leeds would let me but in my situation I was open to coming and helping. Within 12-15 hours, I was a Tiger.
"I wasn't looking to leave. Obviously I was a bit upset with my situation but I was fully focused on forging ahead for them for the rest of the year.
"Part of the frustration was there was never any talk of any contract – one-year, two-year, four-year. My frustration was nobody from the club made any attempt to shut that rumour down and they let it drag on. I told them countless times that one year was fine at Leeds.
"There is more to it as well but I'm not going to go over old wounds. I'm here at Cas and we've got a big battle on our hands."
Austin will be a free agent at the end of this month but he is relaxed about his future.
The 32-year-old's preference is to stay in Super League.
"I was probably more stressed about the contract stuff six to eight weeks ago than I am now," added Austin, who arrived in England with Warrington Wolves in 2019.
"There are only four weeks to go but I've got a couple of things in the pipeline. There's nothing set in concrete.
"We're pretty settled here. We'll look at that in the next few weeks.
"There have been some discussions but the stress has been alleviated. You walk into this place and realise some of your own problems aren't as bad as you think. There are boys dealing with bigger stuff.
"The stressful part for me has passed and I'm at a point now where what will be will be."
Austin, who helped Castleford to a crucial win against relegation rivals Wakefield Trinity on his debut before sitting out the loss to St Helens with a hip issue, is poised to return at former club Warrington on Saturday when the Tigers will aim to open up a four-point advantage at the bottom.
The stand-off is hoping to leave his mark at the club but has played down his role in Castleford's survival bid.
"I'm not here to save the team or anything like that; I'm here to play my part," said Austin.
"When the phone call came to come over, it was something that excited me.
"I said to my agent at the time that if I could help them in some way, it could potentially be one of the cooler things I do in my career.
"The job is far from done yet. We've got four weeks and this sport is great at twists and turns. It would go a long way but even a win this week wouldn't put it to bed.
"We're taking it a week at a time and have such a big challenge this week.”