Kallum Watkins says the Gold Coast’s recent turmoil has had no impact on his desire to be a Titan as he ramps up for his NRL debut against the Broncos on Saturday.
The former Leeds Rhinos captain has looked like a weapon every time he has stepped onto the training paddock since his arrival from the UK nearly a month ago, and now he finally gets to put his skills to the test in the furnace of an NRL local derby.
While the Titans are still in a transition phase after a troubled season, Watkins has no regrets about joining the club and is desperate to put his shoulder to the wheel to help the club move forward.
The three-time Super League premiership winner was captain of Leeds when the Rhinos parted ways with head coach David Furner earlier this year, so Gold Coast’s recent change of coach was no cause for concern.
“It was pretty similar to what it was at Leeds, so I was pretty used to those past few weeks,” Watkins said. “Obviously it was a difficult situation for the club and for all the boys as well.
“I have not been here long enough to know what has been going on. But I understand the situation when you are not playing well, the results... sometimes changes have to be made. That is understandable.
“It is what it is, it is part of the job, part of the sport. But we have to move on as a group now.
“I know that Garth (Brennan) did a very good job with the team, as best as he could, and the boys know that they haven’t been performing well enough. The big thing for us is about improving and becoming a better team.”
Watkins’ experience in navigating the choppy water after a coach’s departure is another way the 28-year-old hopes to provide leadership for the young Titans squad.
“I am a kind of a laid back character anyway, so when I try to speak, it is with a purpose – not any kind of small talk,” he said.
“If I have an opinion that feels like it is beneficial to the team, I will say it. But if not, I will keep it to myself and work with the players that I am next to out there on the field – just having the chats there on the training ground.”
Watkins said he had also sought the advice of former Leeds and England teammate Ryan Hall, now playing with the Sydney Roosters, about what to expect in his NRL baptism.
“I spoke to Ryan a few times,” he said. “At the start of the year, he had that injury but he is getting his opportunity now. He is getting used to the competition and used to the games each week.
“I got some good advice from him. It is just about enjoying yourself and taking advantage of the opportunity that you get.
“If you challenge yourself during your time, it will certainly get the best out of you. That’s why I am here.”