HEARTBROKEN KALLUM Watkins says Leeds Rhinos have to move on quickly from their last-gasp defeat at Wigan Warriors.
Rhinos seemed to be heading for a point when Rob Burrow’s try, converted by Kevin Sinfield, levelled the scores with two minutes left, but the visitors were penalised in possession, for obstruction and Matty Smith kicked the goal to give Wigan a 26-24 win.
Watkins, who filled in at full-back in place of the suspended Zak Hardaker, said: “It was disappointing. It was a decision the ref made and we have to move on pretty quickly from it.
“But it is heartbreaking, because in the second half I thought we pulled it back in terms of our attitude and determination and we were unlucky not to get the right result.”
Rhinos had what would have been a candidate for try of the season ruled out in the first half, when Watkins was adjudged to have committed an obstruction before Danny McGuire touched down.
Leeds boss Brian McDermott and many pundits felt that decision – made by video referees Ian Smith and James Child after match official Richard Silverwood had indicated ‘no try’ – was wrong.
Watkins said: “It’s just one of those things, I was trying to hang around there, trying to get involved in the ball. It is something a little bit different for me, I am probably more (used to being) on the edges, but it is pretty important to try and get involved and support.
“I was trying to get a try. It is a decision they have made and it’s the way it is.”
Watkins will revert to centre at home to Salford Red Devils next Friday when Hardaker is available after his one-game ban. He said: “Obviously we missed Zak, in terms of his play and his attitude.
“What he brings to the team is phenomenal for us and he was certainly a big miss. In terms of full-back, getting the ball in my hands – and pretty early – is pretty good for me.
“I managed to make some carries and some decisions that were pretty good, so I was quite pleased with how I went. More importantly, in terms of the result it was pretty disappointing, but I thought I played all right.”
Salford are Watkins’ home town club and he’s relishing next week’s game. He said: “I love playing against them. They’re the team I followed when I was a kid and I was a ball boy there. I grew up watching them and that made me want to become a rugby player, so I always look forward to playing against them. “It is going to be a tough game for us, but we need to turn things around in terms of putting in an 80-minute performance, because in the first half we weren’t good enough at times.
“In the second half we showed the right attitude and determination and on other day it might have gone our way, but that’s how it is. We’ve got to move on quickly and look forward to next week.”
Meanwhile, Silverwood has admitted he made a mistake when he awarded the hosts the put-in at a scrum, which led to Wigan’s fourth try. Replying to a message on social media internet site Twitter, he said: “Live I missed Smith touch first. The Touch judge also called Wigan Feed. Unfortunately we can’t check this.”