Rhinos skipper Watkins commits future to the club
England star Kallum Watkins has committed his long term future to Rugby League and Champions Leeds Rhinos by signing a new contract extension with the club that will keep him at Emerald Headingley until at least the end of the 2021 season.
Watkins, who has 25 caps for his country, was due to be out of contract at the end of next season but his new deal will keep in the thirteen-man code until at least the next Rugby League World Cup in England in 2021.
Commenting on his new deal, the 27-year-old said, “This is a big stage in any rugby players career as I come into my late twenties and it is a massive deal for me to sign a new contact. I love this club from the bottom of my heart. It is a fantastic club and I have been fortunate to be part of a successful period in the early part of my career, our challenge now is to take that culture forward. The special thing about this club is the family aspect and how we collectively want to achieve something together, that made it very easy to extend my contract. I adore this club and love being with the boys, the whole environment was key in convincing me that I wanted to stay here.”
Watkins has been in outstanding form so far this season and crossed for two tries in last Sunday’s win at Wakefield Trinity. He is thriving in the role of captain and he says he believes it is bringing a new side to his own game. He added, “It might have been a surprise to some when I was named captain but I have to thank Brian and Gary for giving me that opportunity. The role is a big responsibility but I am really enjoying it and want to take that chance with both hands. I am just making sure that I am being myself and keeping the boys calm when the is pressure on. As the Rhinos, we are always going to be under pressure and we need to perform each week. We are expected to win but that is the pressure I enjoy and thrive on.”
Watkins made his debut for the Rhinos as a teenager and last Sunday made his 200th Super League appearance for the club. As an academy graduate he says he has been proud to see the next generation making their mark in the team this season. He added, “The young guys have had their chance this season with some of the senior players out through injury but they have made the most of it. The young fellas like Cameron Smith, Mikolaj Oledzki , Ashton Golding and Josh Walters have been outstanding and are the type of players I want to be around for as long as possible. You only need to look at someone like Jack Walker to get excited about the future of this club. He has been a revelation and it shows the future is bright here; I am very proud to be part of that and I have been a part of that for a long time now. When I came into the side, I was surrounded by guys who had grown up together and that gave them a real strength of character and resolve. I want to help build a team that these fellas can come in to and thrive. It is a credit to the hard work these boys do with our coaching staff to get the best out of them in the junior levels that they are ready to go in Super League and hopefully we will continue to do that,” added Watkins.
Leeds Rhinos Chief Executive Gary Hetherington commented, “Kallum was one of the outstanding players in the World Cup last Autumn which is naturally going to attract plenty of attention for him. He is an elite, world class player and at 27, he is committing his best years to the Rhinos and the Super League competition which is a fantastic boost for our club and competition.”