NEW CASTLEFORD Tigers signing Liam Watts says he has spoken to Super League legend Jamie Peacock about adapting his controversial style of play for the modern game.
Watts joined Tigers this week on a three-year contract after Hull let him go owing to what their coach Lee Radford said was a “discipline issue”.
The 27-year-old, who lives in Castleford and had a spell in Tigers’ academy, has been sent off four times in the past year and is currently serving a three-game ban following a red card for butting Warrington Wolves’ Dom Crosby two weeks ago.
Watts is rated as one of Super League’s top props, but has yet to receive a Test call-up.
Peacock, the former Leeds Rhinos and England captain, is now team manager for the international side and has offered advice on what needs to change in Watts’ game as he bids to force his way into coach Wayne Bennett’s plans.
“If you have got an opposition in front of you, if you can get underneath their skin and disrupt them as much as possible, then you’ve got a great chance of winning the game,” Watts said.
“Obviously the RFL, for whatever reasons, are picking up on stuff now that never even got looked at two or three years ago.
“That is me having to adapt again. I had a chat with Jamie Peacock about it and just having to adapt my game and do all the things necessary to give me the best possible chance of getting in that England team at the end of the year.
“They [the Rugby Football League] want a more fluent game and they are picking up on stuff now that’s never been picked up on before.
“Unfortunately, I’ve been picked up on a few occasions in the last 12 months. The game’s changing and you’ve either got to change with it or keep picking up bans like I’ve been doing.
“It’s time I started playing a bit smarter.”
Watts, who insisted he has no “off-field issues”, is suspended for the next two games and is likely to make his Tigers debut in a derby at Wakefield Trinity in 13 days’ time.
“It gives me two weeks to bed in and get settled so I’m not thrown straight in,” he said.
“It is definitely a blessing in disguise.”