Leeds Rhinos: It’ll be an honour to reach double ton, says Watkins

Kallum Watkins.
Kallum Watkins.
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ENGLAND CENTRE Kallum Watkins says he will be “honoured” to reach 200 games for Leeds Rhinos, but is nowhere near finished.

Watkins will bring up his double century, nine years on from his debut, when Rhinos face Wigan Warriors at Headingley tonight.

“It is a huge milestone – and it could have been more,” said the 26-year-old, who has not missed a Leeds game since July, 2015.

“I had a year when I was out for pretty much a whole season.

“For me it is a huge honour, 200 games for Leeds.

“I just want to continue making appearances and playing well and for us the aim is to keep going and try and get some good results over the next few weeks.”

Watkins made his debut in a Challenge Cup win over Celtic Crusaders in April, 2008.

Already a two-time Challenge Cup and Super League Grand Final winner and a World Club champion, he reckons he could have “10-plus more years, hopefully” ahead of him as a player.

He has featured in Rhinos’ last 43 competitive games and has played every moment - a total of 3,420 minutes - during that run.

He admitted it is a far cry from his early days in the team, when he struggled with injuries and missed most of the 2010 campaign following a knee reconstruction.

“For me it is crazy, because around the time I was injured it was a bit stop-start after it and I was struggling to get a good run of games,” he recalled.

“To get a good run of games for the last couple of years has been huge for me and it has been a big part of my career just to keep that run going and be consistent.”

Watkins has scored 112 tries for Leeds – and four goals – and reckons there will be more to come with Rhinos’ attack finally beginning to click.

“We are playing quite well at the minute,” he said.

“We really like to play, that is the main thing for us.

“We have got a bit of structure in our play to give ourselves an opportunity to apply pressure to other teams.

“For us it is just about backing ourselves at times when we need it. If we try to score on every play we make it hard for ourselves at times, but we are playing well with the ball at the minute and also in D [defence].

“We are saving tries and last week was a huge example of that. We did a lot of defending and saved a few tries and that helped us to push on and get a good result.”

The 28-12 win at Huddersfield Giants seven days ago was Rhinos’ third successive victory, but their upturn in form faces a major challenge tonight.

“They are a good team,” Watkins said of Wigan.

“They are the champions so for us it is a huge game and for them as well.

“We have got to prepare for their best. I know they’ve had a few injuries and a few players out, but they’ve got some players coming back in now.

“They lost last week against Hull, but they’ll still be confident in what they can do.

“They will be confident they can come here and get a result so we’ve got to be on our guard. We’ve got to play well and if we do that we will give ourselves the best opportunity to win.”

Tom Briscoe.

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