Warrington Wolves star Blake Austin is a team player
Watch Warrington Wolves take on St Helens in Super League live on Sky Sports Arena from 7pm on Friday.
By Marc Bazeley
Last Updated: 25/06/19 10:06pm
He has been one of the stand-out individuals in Super League in 2019, but Blake Austin is very much a team player.
The half-back has lit up the competition after joining Warrington Wolves from NRL side Canberra Raiders in the off-season, with Austin currently leading the Man of Steel standings and being talked about as a possible member of Wayne Bennett's Great Britain squad at the end of the year, for which he qualifiers for via an English grandmother.
Team-mates Daryl Clark and Stefan Ratchford are both up among the top 10 contenders for Super League's top individual accolade too, emphasising the individual talent Wolves head coach Steve Price has assembled.
Together they have helped Warrington establish themselves as the nearest challenger to runaway leaders St Helens, who they host live on Sky Sports on Friday night, yet Austin is quick to point out that success will come from the collective getting things right rather than personal glory.
"There are certainly games where it's easy to grab the ball and come up with a couple of tries for yourself, but I think it's most important that we're playing a good, balanced team style of footie," Austin told Sky Sports.
"That was probably highlighted a couple of weeks ago when we lost Daryl Clark against Hull KR. We struggled a bit without such a strike player, so we've got to ensure we have a style that can make up for those missing players and that's what we're working hard to do.
"We've been on a bit of a journey with our attack. We've been slowly trying to improve, we've got some really good individual players, but we're looking to really settle on a style of play which is going to hold us in good stead at the back end of the season."
The clash with St Helens at the Halliwell Jones Stadium pits first against second in Super League, with the visitors coming to town six points clear at the top of the standings and having suffered just two defeats all season.
Saints were 38-12 winners when Warrington visited the Totally Wicked Stadium back in April, but defeats away to Catalans Dragons and London Broncos have shown Justin Holbrook's side do have one or two chinks in their seemingly-impervious armour.
Austin is eager for the Wolves to put in a much-improved display from their previous match against St Helens this time around, and while overhauling them to claim the League Leaders' Shield might not be at the forefront of his mind, setting themselves up to kick on in the play-offs most certainly is.
"The stage of season we're at, we just want to put in a really good performance against them," Austin said. "Last time out against them, we weren't really happy with how we performed.
"Whether a good performance results in a win or not, that remains to be seen, but the stage of the season we're at we've sort of consolidated second and we just want to make sure the performances we're putting in will hold us in good stead come the back end of the season."
Warrington and St Helens could yet met again this season in the final of the Coral Challenge Cup, a competition which yielded three successes for the Wolves between 2009 and 2012.
A Grand Final victory has remained elusive for the Cheshire club in their four appearances though, and last year's defeat to Wigan Warriors at Old Trafford extended their wait for a championship crown, which stretches back to 1955.
But the focus for Austin and his team-mates is firmly on themselves rather than anything that has gone before or what St Helens are doing.
"You can look at the ladder and you can tell Saints are having a very good season," Austin said. "Full credit to them, it's a long year and a tough year, and they've manage to win a few more games than everyone else.
"But all our focus is on us, and the clock started a few weeks ago and it's ticking down to the business end of the season.
"Whether we catch St Helens or not, between now and the end of the season it's about our performances as a whole.
"This week is a chance to test those theories and styles of footie against the benchmark of the competition."