Castleford Tigers’ Sammy Watts generates her own fan club with string of power-packed performances
NOT MANY rugby league players have their own fan club, but Castleford Tigers front-rower Sammy Watts has.
The Sammy Watts Fan Club will be out in force on Friday when Tigers take on Leeds Rhinos in the Betfred Women’s Super League Grand Final.
Tigers are aiming to cap a superb season by claiming the big prize and avenging a 16-10 loss to Leeds in the Coral Challenge Cup final three months ago.
And the Friday-evening trip to St Helens’ Totally Wicked Stadium won’t deter Watts’ most dedicated supporters from rallying round the flag.
“All my family and friends have been coming to every fixture, home and away,” Watts said.
“They all seem to have recruited people to join the fan club.
“All my mates have been bringing their family and friends and they’ve made a flag – which says Sammy Watts Fan Club on it.
“We’ve got them all on the supporters’ bus for Friday, they are taking half a day off work and travelling over to St Helens.
“It is a big occasion and I’m not used to playing in front of [Sky TV] cameras and a big crowd so it’s always nice to look over and see some familiar, friendly faces who are backing me no matter how well or bad I am playing.”
Membership is free and open to everyone.
Watts said: “I just happen to be their favourite player – and they all want a photo after the game, with the flag.”
Watts – no relation to Liam, her namesake in Tigers’ men’s team – was a late starter to rugby league.
She played occasionally at school, but preferred football and didn’t focus on league until Lindsay Anfield, now Tigers’ coach, encouraged her to attend a trial for England Students.
She needed a club to play for and so joined Normanton Knights before linking up with Tigers, who entered Super League two years ago.
Watts missed last year’s Challenge Cup final owing to injury and was a runner-up in the same competition earlier this season before claiming her first silverware when Castleford lifted the league leaders’ shield.
“I am 22 now and young girls playing at 16 have played more than I have,” she said.
“I used to joke with Lindsay that rugby’s not for me, it’s a tough game, but as soon as I joined the club I fell in love with the sport and I wouldn’t go back now and play anything else.”
Friday will be the biggest game Watts has played in and, though Tigers finished three places and five points above Rhinos on the table and have beaten them twice this year, she is expecting it to go right to the wire.
“If we want to win anything this year, it’s this one,” she said.
“It is on Sky, there’s going to be thousands of people watching and it will show what women’s rugby league is all about.
“Hopefully it will create a bit more interest and get more people watching and young girls wanting to play.
“I’m looking forward to it, a bit nervous, but that’s the case with finals.
“We want to play well and see how it goes, but it will be really tough. Leeds are a big-game team, they know how to perform on big occasions, but we don’t want to lose this one and we don’t want to be known as bottle jobs.
“We have played well all year. In the Challenge Cup we fell at the last hurdle, but we are going to be wanting it more than ever.
“It is the Grand Final and hopefully we can do it.”