England centre Kallum Watkins has agreed a new five-year contract with Leeds Rhinos.
The 23-year-old three-quarter has played his entire career at Headingley Carnegie having emerged from the club’s Academy as a teenager. And last weekend he helped England to victory over Samoa in the opening game of the Four Nations in Brisbane with a try in the 32-26 win – his seventh try in nine appearances for his country.
His new contract will keep him at the Rhinos until at least the end of the 2019 Super League season. He has scored 72 tries in 128 appearances for the Rhinos since making his debut back in April 2008.
“I never wanted to play for any other club than Leeds and I am pleased we have been able to agree a new deal that keeps me here for the future,” said Watkins.
“I have got a young family and the chance to be part of this team as we develop over the next few years is something I am very excited about.
“The Cup final last season was very special and it has whetted the appetite for what is to come in 2015. We were all disappointed that we could not get back to Old Trafford last season but I am sure that will drive us on in pre-season to make sure we are ready to go one better in next season.
“We have got a tremendous group of players at the Rhinos and a great coaching team and together I think we can achieve even more over the next few years.
“The last decade has been an incredible time for the Rhinos and it has been special to be part of that.
“Our challenge is now to build on that and continue that period of success in the years to come.”
Rhinos’ chief executive Gary Hetherington added: “Kallum’s contract is a significant announcement for the Rhinos and for the England team as well ahead of this weekend’s crucial clash with Australia.
“To have our best young talent committing to not just Rugby League but Super League as well, is a major boost to our game and one that should not be underestimated.
“A player as talented as Kallum will inevitably be coveted by the NRL and Rugby Union, however his determination to be part of the Rhinos’ future is something that I am sure will get all our supporters excited.
“We have seen already record numbers of Rhinos fans purchasing memberships for the 2015 season and the new era for Super League.
“We aim to have 10,000 members by the start of the new season and that level of support and backing is something that is vital in retaining and rewarding the best talent in our game.
“All those who have already purchased their memberships for 2015, can feel proud of the part they have played in keeping Kallum at Headingley Carnegie.”