Danny Ward hails ‘quality’ Castleford Tigers signing and looks ahead to survival challenge

DANNY WARD hailed the impact of Blake Austin after Castleford Tigers’ critical win over Super League relegation rivals Wakefield Trinity.

Castleford’s 28-12 victory at Belle Vue marked a winning start for both Ward, appointed as the Tigers’ third head coach of the season following Andy Last’s departure, and Austin.

The Australian halfback’s arrival on loan from Leeds Rhinos was a great surprise on transfer deadline week, but he was influential in earning Castleford a first win in six and moving them two points clear of Wakefield at the foot of the table.

“Overall this week he’s been fantastic with the group, with his talk and his leadership,” said Ward.

“On the field he’s taken some pressure off Milky (Jacob Miller), the other half, and allowed Gaz (Gareth Widdop) to roam at fullback. 

“He’s a quality player. We know what Blake Austin is capable of. He’s a great pick-up for the club at this time of year. 

“He’s just freed up other players to express themselves which has been good. 

“For me he was a little bit quiet (against Wakefield) in terms of some of his strike at times, but we were having a lot of joy down that other side as well. 

“But he kicked the ball really well, he found grass on some tough kicks out of our half which were big swings for us. It’s a good start for Blake.”

Ward said he was pleased to see the work of his first week in charge come to fruition in such a big game, but he also sees plenty to work on heading into the next of Castleford’s five remaining fixtures, at home to St Helens this Friday.

“I’m just really pleased that we worked on some things in training this week and we’ve gone out and executed it,” he added.

“The energy and intensity all week has been fantastic, and I’m only looking forward really in terms of this performance.

“There’s still some areas we need to fix up, defensively especially, so we can’t be all smiles. 

“With my coach’s hat on, I want to get back into work as soon as possible and work on those fix-ups.”

Ward was quick to warn that Castleford are not out of trouble yet, but won’t be worrying about Wakefield’s fortunes.

“We cannot focus on that, we must focus on ourselves and focus on St Helens next week,” he said.

“We’ll get the lads back down to earth. That was great, we’ll enjoy that one, especially with the fans going mental here. 

“It was a great atmosphere at the end. We’ll enjoy it and then roll our sleeves up and go again.”