Blake Austin is relishing this afternoon’s trip back to former club Warrington Wolves, but is fully focused on ensuring current side Castleford Tigers bring an end to a stressful year for all involved by securing Super League safety as soon as possible.
The half-back only joined Cas last month on loan from Leeds Rhinos, and has so far played just one game in a Tigers shirt, missing last week’s home defeat to St Helens through injury.
His one game so far though saw him put in a big shift as Danny Ward’s side beat Wakefield Trinity at Belle Vue in a basement battle to move two competition points clear of their relegation rivals at the foot of the table.
It remains that way with four games remaining for each side, and with Wakefield not playing until tomorrow afternoon against champions St Helens, victory at the Halliwell Jones Stadium today would see Cas go four clear with a huge psychological boost in their favour.
‘The situation we’re all in here brings nothing but stress’: Blake Austin details drive to get Castleford over the line
Of course, even if the Tigers win and Wakefield lose this weekend, safety wouldn’t be mathematically achieved. Regardless of what happens, Trinity will still have six competition points left to play for.
He said: “The situation we’re all in here brings nothing but stress. When you’re uncertain about what could happen next year and where your money’s going to be coming in from, that can only bring stress.
“The win against Wakey helped to settle everyone’s nerves a little bit, but we’re all under no illusions that Wakey can do some pretty special things, so it’s far from over.
“We’ve got four games left to make sure it’s out of reach for them. We don’t want to be coming down to the last couple of games and having to do some special things, so the next two weeks is really important for us, and we’re going to be putting a lot into that for sure.
“A win this week wouldn’t put it to bed. I haven’t done the maths, but we’re looking at it a week at a time. We’ve got such a big challenge this week, the next four weeks are just as important for them (Warrington) as they are for us.
“They’re either going to be limping into the finals or bowing out, so they’re going to want to get some form on the board and we don’t want to be the team that plays them back into form.
“The only positive is that the newer boys don’t carry the same scars as the older boys. It’s been a tough, long season for these boys, so the fresh faces are here without some of the scars. Some of the newer boys have been our best performers in recent weeks.
“We miss Liam Horne this week, that’s a big loss, but Billy [Tsikrikas] and Charbel [Tasipale] have been doing a great job as well, and we’re really excited.”
Warrington Wolves reunion for Austin
The Parramatta-born half moved over from Australia ahead of the 2019 season and linked up with Warrington, spending three years at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
He has fond memories of his time there, and is looking forward to another reunion with some of his former teammates.
The Castleford ace added: “It’s a place I always enjoy going back to, I’ve got a lot of lifelong friends that I made there, and I’ll never speak negatively about my time at Warrington because I thoroughly enjoyed it.
“I’ve still got a lot of mates and family friends there, so I just enjoy the opportunity to go back and see a lot of them. Obviously, going back to the Halliwell Jones and winning is enjoyable, but it’s just about seeing good friends that I’ve made along the way.
“Daryl Clark’s my closest mate, one of my best friends I’ve made in rugby league. I always enjoy coming up against him. There’s a few of the NRL boys who I played with back home too, I played with Vaughany (Paul Vaughan) back in Canberra, he likes to give me a hard time when we play them, and Stefan Ratchford’s a great family friend.
“It’ll be great to get back there and get amongst it, but we’re going to have our work cut out this week. It’s certainly fair to say that they’re going into this as favourites. We’re going to have to go there and do a job.”