Castleford Tigers prop Liam Watts surprised by Tommy Makinson’s ‘tackle technique’

Castleford Tigers prop Liam Watts has spoken of his “surprise” after Golden Boot winner Tommy Makinson grabbed his genitals during Sunday’s Super League loss at St Helens.

Monday, 17th August 2020, 5:03 pm
Updated Monday, 17th August 2020, 5:12 pm
Liam Watts is held by James Roby during the weekend's encounter against St Helens. Picture: Bruce Rollinson/JPIMedia.

The first half incident was put on report after Watts notified referee James Child. The official called over Saints captain James Roby to explain an allegation of an “inappropriae challenge” had been made.

The matter was investigated by the match review panel who hit the England winger with a maximum Grade F charge of ‘other contrary behaviour’ and referred him to today’s disiciplanary.

Watts, 30, has been part of the England set-up with Makinson - named international rugby league’s best player in 2018 - for the last two years. He said: “I was more surprised than anything as I know Tommy and it’s not in his nature that. Had he just grabbed it I’d have laughed it off but he grabbed it and then didn’t let go.

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St Helens' Tommy Makinson. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

“Then he grabbed it even more and I just thought ‘that’s not right’.He came up to me after the game and apologised and I’m not bothered about it. It’s just one of those things.

“It’s probably just spur of the moment; he’s not thought about it and done it which I’ve done with different things plenty of times in the past. It was just more of a surprise that it was him. He’s a quiet lad and well-spoken so it was a bit weird he did it.

“But he’s apologised.”

Asked if he would speak in defence of Makinson, Watts said: “I know what it (the charge) carries and it doesn’t make a difference what I say. It’s foul play isn’t it and it’s not part of the game. You can say he’s a nice kid and this, that and the other but whoever it is it’s still not part of the sport.

Castleford Tigers prop Liam Watts. Picture: Chris Mangnall/SWpix.com.

“In my eyes it should have been looked at there and then on the pitch after I’d flagged it up but the ref’ initially played on.

“It didn’t hurt but it was the fact that it had happened.”

There have been similar incidents in the past.

St Helens’ former Great Britain star Leon Pryce was banned for three games for squeezing the testicles of Sam Burgess who was still a teenager playing for Bradford Bulls at the time in 2007.

Ironically, when Burgess moved to the NRL with South Sydney, the England forward received a two-game suspension himself for doing likewise during a game against Melbourne Storm.

Castleford went on to lose 10-0 against the defending champions on Sunday but Saints did not secure victory until Theo Fages scored the only try of an enthralling game in the 77th minute.

Both sides combined to produce a gripping contest played at high pace, with real intensity and magnificent defensive efforts.

It was Watts’ 250th Super League appearance and the first time he had played a fixture behind closed doors.

“The actual atmosphere of the game is terrible so I take my hat off to both sets of players,” said the rangy forward, who made his Super League debut with Hull KR in 2008.

“To play in those conditions with no fans - I didn’t play the week before so it’s the first time I’ve done that since I was in Academy - and play with that intensity is credit to both teams. It was a good slog and it was fairly evenly matched.

“If we’d had Jake Trueman in our side at half-back it’s a different story as Paul McShane could have gone back to hooker and he’d have brought that control.

“Adz (Milner) was there but he’s been playing loose forward now for the last three or four years and just fills in when he has to.

“Coming up against the best team in the competition you need those sorts of players in your key positions.”

Great Britain tourist Trueman was a late withdrawal on the morning of the game forcing a late rejig for Daryl Powell’s side.

But the manner of the performance has only strengthened the belief of former Hull FC front-row Watts that Castleford can challenge for silverware.

He added: “It was Gaz O’Brien’s first game and an all round fantastic effort from everybody on our side. We’ve beaten Saints once already this year and put up a good showing with a number of players out this week.

“They won’t want to play us in a major final. For 75 minutes we defended our hearts out and just lacked a bit of composure in certain areas. The game was so quick up and down, end to end, we couldn’t really put any moves on it was so fast. But we’ll be better for that game.”

Castleford prop Grant Millington received a Grade A Dangerous Contact for a tackle on Fages with zero match penalty notice but has been handed a one match ban for the dangerous contact on Jonny Lomax that saw him sin-binned later in the game.

St Helens’ Matty Lees also received a Grade A Dangerous Contact with zero match penalty notice.