No turning back: Austin set to see out his career in Wolves clothing
As little as six weeks ago, Blake Austin's sights were firmly fixed on staying in the NRL. Now he has inked a new contract that could see him play out the best football of his career with Warrington Wolves in the English Super League.
The Canberra five-eighth lamented how his contract negations were handled at times but said he was happy to have his future decided.
"Everybody I have spoken to speaks really highly of the club and it's a decision we made quickly after speaking to [Warrington coach] Steve Price," Austin said.
"He wasn't somebody who pushed too hard to get me to the club, he told me if I kept playing good footy things would work out.
"It's an opportunity to go to Europe, my kids will have a few stamps on their passports and the missus and I are really excited."
The hard stance against a move to England started to soften as Austin fielded calls from Price while in camp with Canberra at Sanctuary Cove two weeks ago.
From there the terms of the three-year deal were quickly put into place and the 27-year-old decided on a change of scenery in order to "prolong" his career.
He will be 30 when his deal expires and Canberra coach Ricky Stuart said the playmaker would be welcome to return to the nation's capital if he chooses but Austin says he is "heading over with the mindset that I don't really want to head back to Australia".
"I know I can never say never and things can change but there's an unwritten law that you have to plug away in the NRL until you're 30 and then you go over to Europe," Austin said.
"But I'm going over to play good footy and hopefully bring some success to Warrington.
"If I went over there with any other mindset I might struggle and miss home too much so it's important I contribute and play good footy."
Apart from staying put at the Raiders, the Eels were also mooted as one of the major suitors for Austin's services for next year.
"They were an option and one that I considered pretty heavily, I would have been 10 minutes from mum and dad and I supported the club as a kid," Austin said.
"Weighing everything up I'm really happy to be heading to the Super League to see what it's all about."
Luke Bateman, who is set to return this weekend against North Queensland after having surgery for a minor knee injury, said Austin's presence on and off the field will be hard to replace.
"It's a bit sad really, he's a massive member of our team and has been for a number of years now," Bateman said.
"He's a bit of a larrikin and everybody gets a good laugh out of him, so it'll be weird walking into the locker room and not seeing them at the start of next year."