New recruit Kallum Watkins says the chance to test himself at the highest level was behind his move to the NRL with the Gold Coast Titans.
Watkins was announced as the Titans’ latest recruit over the weekend and will head down under in the coming weeks once his visa application has been approved, joining the club on a two-and-a-half-year deal.
The Manchester-born centre has played 25 Test for England and won three Super League premierships with the Leeds Rhinos, but says he is excited about the new challenge of taking on the NRL with the Titans.
“I didn’t want to look back on my career and think there was an opportunity to go and I didn’t take it,” Watkins told The Yorkshire Evening Post in the United Kingdom.
“It’s going to be a new environment and getting used to new things, but I want to take it with both hands and I’m really excited to be going over there.
“It has been difficult with the injury side of it, but I think it will benefit me going into it and I am really excited by it.”
The 28-year-old missed the majority of season 2018 due to a knee injury and admits he is yet to rediscover his best form, but says playing in Australia will aid in his recovery and a return to his usual standards.
“Going to the NRL earlier will be testing times,” he said. “It is a fierce competition, but I am excited to be a part of it.
“My family are looking forward to it as well. As soon as the news came out a couple of weeks ago (about my departure) my wife was prioritising Australia.”
The predominantly right-side centre has been keeping an eye on the Titans’ recent results and is keen to make his mark at the club during the back-end of the 2019 season.
“Their results have been pretty close,” he said.
“I know they have struggled in terms of getting wins, but at the same time they look like a group who are sticking together.”
Titans Head of Performance and Culture Mal Meninga said the club was excited about what Watkins would bring to the Gold Coast’s roster.
“Kallum is a very experienced player, and is the captain of the Leeds Rhinos, so he is bringing the leadership qualities that we have been looking for,” Meninga told titans.com.au.
“We need experience in a very young side, and we need some strike out wide. Kallum ticks both of those boxes for us.
“He is very strong defensively. He is a big body with good speed and is very talented, and he knows his way to the tryline.
“Some people have made comment that Kallum is not the player he was since his knee reconstruction.
“That doesn’t worry us at all. We understand that these types of injury take time to recover from, and that it is a long process to getting back to their best. Kallum is well underway on that journey and I think he will be an excellent asset for the Titans.”
Kallum Watkins bio:
DOB – 12/03/1991
Birthplace – Manchester, England
Position – Centre
Height – 185cm
Weight – 98kg
English Super League games – 255
English Super League Tries – 133
England caps - 25