As he settles into life at Warrington Wolves, Blake Austin talks at length to sports reporter Matt Turner about his life and career to date, and what he hopes to achieve with The Wire...

THE hopes and dreams of a town have been largely placed on his shoulders.

It can prove a burden to some, but Blake Austin considers it an honour.

His arrival at Warrington Wolves on a three-year marquee deal has been greeted with much fanfare both from within and from those on the outside looking in.

Being chosen as the man to spearhead The Wire’s quest to finally end a 64-year wait for a league title is something Austin finds “humbling” as he aims to make sure his name will go down in folklore.

“I’m not here for a holiday or to see Europe. I’m here to play some good footy,” he said.

“The opportunity to come over in my best years of footy is something that excites me.

“I’m pretty sure that a Super League title would mean a lot to this club. The fact they have chosen me to come over and help them do that is humbling.

“I know that comes with some expectation, but if we can bring some trophies to Warrington it would be unreal.

“I’m 27 and I feel like I’m coming into my own at the moment.

“I want to be a household name in Warrington once I’m done. That’s the plan for me.

“Whether it’s for three years, five years, seven years or however long. Who knows how long I’m going to be here.

“I want to leave a bit of a mark on local footy here and help kids that aspire to play for the Wolves one day.”

Blake Austin in pre-season training with The Wire. Picture by Mike Boden

Of course, being the go-to guy brings its own pressure.

As Tyrone Roberts – the man Austin has been brought in to replace – knows all too well, the finger of blame is likely to hover over him if The Wire fail in the big games once again.

However, the former Canberra Raiders man is determined not to let the marquee tag weigh heavily on him.

“There is pressure, of course, but it comes with the territory,” he said.

“I’ve been a starting half in the NRL for the past four or five years.

“If your team’s winning you’re going well but if they are losing, it’s your fault.

“It comes with the position, whether you’re a marquee player or not.

“As a half-back, my job is to get the team over the line and that’s what I want to do.”

So just who is the man The Wire have pinned many of their hopes on?

Austin candidly tells of his upbringing in a footy-mad western Sydney household, with parents Robert and Maree his guiding influence.

While he tried his hand at baseball as well as competing in state-level athletics in his youth, he was always going to be a rugby league player.

He shone as a junior at the Doonside Roos club – where the likes of Andrew Fifita, Josh Addo-Carr and Jarrod Sammut played in their early days – and even gained national recognition on Australia’s famed The Footy Show at the age of nine.

Austin will hope to wear the Warrington number six shirt with the same distinction as Lee Briers, left. Picture by Mike Boden

“I first played when I was four. My mum and dad were always my manager and coach growing up.

“They love their footy, so it was always what I was going to do.

“Trent Barrett was a favourite of mine. I always liked the bigger, running sixes so Trent was someone I looked up to.

“I liked Terry Campese when he was in his prime at Canberra, too.

“We weren’t poor by any means. Mum knew where all our money was going, she was pretty good at that.

“No expense was ever spared for sport and that’s something I’ll always be thankful for.

“There’s a segment on The Footy Show where you can send in a kids try. They pick a weekly winner and then they pick an overall winner at the end of the year.

“Mum sent one of mine in from an under 9s Grand Final and we went on to win it.

“We won a car, which Mum and Dad sold straight away so they could put a deposit on a house. It was something that wasn’t looking likely for my parents at the time

“It’s pretty touching for me that I helped set my parents up like that.”

His professional career began at Penrith Panthers before moving on to Wests Tigers, but it was with the Raiders that he truly shot to prominence.

A stellar 2015 season earned him the Dally M Five-Eighth of the Year prize having scored 14 tries in 23 games, setting up a further seven.

Austin was named Dally M Five-Eighth of the Year in 2015 during his spell with Canberra Raiders. Picture by Canberra Raiders

He turns 28 the day before Warrington’s 2019 campaign begins and he is ready to give his prime years to the club as he settles into life in England with partner Gillian, son Carter and daughters Nahlaa, Wynter and Remi.

“I’m just a bloke that loves rugby league. If there was a game on Mars, I’d be putting my hand up,” he said.

“Whether I was playing professional or not, either here or back in Australia, I would be playing rugby league somewhere.

“I’m blessed to call it a job and it’s taken me to the other side of the world.

“I know rugby league’s not the number one sport in this country, so any role I can play in promoting the game and helping kids aspire to play the game is something I’d love to get involved in.

“I’ve got a wonderful partner who is pretty understanding with the sport.

“She is sort of at the mercy of my career but she makes things very easy.

“She was all for coming over and we always thought the lifestyle over here would suit us.

“We’re all on the ride and we’re taking it day-by-day.”

Austin turns 28 the day before The Wire's 2019 season opener against Leeds Rhinos. Picture by Mike Boden