NEW LEEDS Rhinos captain Kallum Watkins has described his appointment as “a massive honour and a real privilege”.
Watkins, 26, succeeds Danny McGuire almost 10 years after his Rhinos debut.
The Manchester-born England centre will be Leeds’ seventh permanent captain of the summer era and was an “obvious choice” for the role, according to coach Brian McDermott.
“I have learned from the best and I have gained a lot of experience from the big games I have been involved in,” Watkins said after his new position was confirmed yesterday.
“Being a leader was probably not something that came to me naturally initially, but it is something I have grown into and now relish.
“I feel I have earned that by being myself. I think being captain will make me stronger.”
When you watch the great leaders we have been fortunate to have in our dressing room, you soon learn that what you say is more important than how much you say.Leeds Rhinos’ Kallum Watkins
He added: “Having the desire to lead from the front helped me across the board throughout last season.
“It is a massive responsibility, but for me it is just about being myself.
“I have always wanted to improve as a player and help improve as a team together.
“For me to be successful, I have to be playing at my best and I believe being captain of this great team gives me that opportunity.”
Watkins insisted the role will not change his approach to games.
“I am not going to be saying a lot of things just because I feel like I have to say something,” he stressed.
“When you watch the great leaders we have been fortunate to have in our dressing room, you soon learn that what you say is more important than how much you say.
“I hope I can be a calming presence in the locker room and I know I am not on my own because we have so many leaders within the group.”
McDermott admitted the role is not an easy one, but insisted Watkins can make it his own.
“The captaincy of this great club is a big task,” McDermott said.
“When you look across our group, whilst there are those who have leadership qualities, Kallum is a fantastic candidate who has stood up to be counted over the last 18 months and was an obvious choice for 2018.
“When I told the group that Kallum would be our new captain, the squad were really happy and confident that Kallum will get the job done.
“The Leeds captaincy is not an issue many Leeds coaches have had to deal with down the years because of the long and outstanding leadership that Kevin Sinfield provided us with.
“His record speaks for itself, but I would also pay tribute to the job Danny McGuire did in the last two years. Being the next captain after Kevin was always going to be a sizeable task, but Danny handled it magnificently on all occasions.
“Kallum has emerged under those two and he showed his best when things were at their hardest. That is why I had no hesitation in making him our captain and I know he will lead our team with distinction.”