Written by Zack Wilson
Blake Austin is showing Super League just what a marquee signing is supposed to be with his performances for Warrington Wolves in 2019.
Super League clubs have struggled to sign marquee players who have really offered the kind of transformative quality such signings are meant to show.
But Warrington’s recruitment under Steve Price is starting to look very good indeed.
Austin has scored nine tries so far this season, and has provided five try assists for his team-mates.
The stats show that he has also made 41 tackle busts, and 138 carries for 1039 metres at an average gain of 7.53m. He has also made 15 clean breaks
He ran in four of those tries in the recent 63-12 chasing of Hull FC.
Austin picked up three Man of Steel points in the Wire’s destruction of Hull FC last week, moving him up to third in the overall rankings for the award.
Significantly, the player a point ahead of him in second place after the game against Hull was his Wire team-mate Stefan Ratchford.
Racthford is another player who has benefitted from Austin’s presence in the team. There is less of a playmaking burden on the fullback now, and he has enjoyed the extra freedom.
But other close season recruitment has also gone well for Warrington. Jake Mamo being a case in point.
The Maltese-Australian is a classic squad player – a utility man who can fill in across the backline without ever being considered a first-choice.
But this season he has played an important role in Warrington’s success so far, weighing in with two tries and turning in some impressive all-round performances.
He has featured at winger and in the centres, but sadly missed this weekend’s trip to London Broncos as he has picked up an ankle ligament sprain.
Austin and Mamo are two ends of the scale of recruitment – one is a marquee player and the other is a squad player, acquired to provide cover.
But they both show similar characteristics – professionalism, commitment to the cause and good all-round skill sets.
They both, in different ways, highlight the importance of recruitment to a club’s progress.
Whether you are recruiting a star name to help take your team to the next level or you’re signing utility backs to cover injuries, you need to make sure you sign the right people.
Steve Price and his recruitment team at the Wolves are clearly getting things right in this regard.
The joke has become that it’s always Wire’s year. But with Price at the helm, steering a squad replete with quality players like Austin and Mamo, 2019 might yet be a season to celebrate for the Wolves.
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