Leeds Rhinos: Captain Watkins eyeing up title repeat

Kallum Watkins.
Kallum Watkins.
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NEW LEEDS Rhinos captain Kallum Watkins says his ambition this year is to “win everything” – but he admits the Betfred Super League champions’ fate is in their own hands.

Rhinos will begin their title defence away to Warrington Wolves in five days’ time and Watkins reckons they are capable of bettering what they achieved last year.

Kallum Watkins in action against Castleford Tigers on Sunday.

Kallum Watkins in action against Castleford Tigers on Sunday.

“I am very confident, but it is down to us as a group,” Watkins said. “It was great what we did last year and we want to repeat that and do even better.

“To do that we will have to go on a journey, there will be some downs and the important thing is reacting to those. We’ve gained that experience from the past couple of years and we need to continue to build on that this year.”

Watkins insisted: “For me, I am a winner and I want to win everything. As a group we know there are goals to aim for, but it is down to us – it is down to our mentality and how we produce in games. We have got to do the best we can throughout the season.”

Rhinos are adjusting to life without club legends Danny McGuire – following his move to rivals Hull KR – and Rob Burrow, who is now Leeds’ academy coach. Scrum-half Richie Myler and hooker Rob Dwyer have been brought in, along with New Zealand-born forward Nathaniel Peteru.

It was great what we did last year and we want to repeat that and do even better.

Kallum Watkins

Asked how this year’s squad compares to the one which won the 2017 title, Watkins said: “I guess we’ll have to wait and see on that.”

He reflected: “We have lost Magsy and Rob and I would say they are impossible to replace, they are legends of this club so to see them go is big for us, but it’s a hole we have to fill and the guys who have come in have done a great job in pre-season.

“Richie is looking really good, he is an outstanding player. I’ve played against him for many years and I know he wants to revamp his career – that’s why he has come to us. He wants to be successful.”

Of Dwyer, Watkins said: “He is a good kid, he is funny, he’s enjoyable to be around and he shows that out on the field.

“He works hard and this is a huge opportunity for him. He wants to do well and win things and he has goals he wants to achieve.”

Peteru suffered an injury setback in his first training session, but Watkins said: “Nate has been fantastic as well.

“He is a quiet lad and it’s going to be a difficult couple of months in terms of settling in and getting used to the environment, but I think he has settled in pretty well. We are all helping him and making sure he feels like he’s not alone. As soon as he starts playing and getting games under his belt he will get more comfortable with the guys.

“I am looking forward to seeing him out there performing. He’s another one who wants to be successful, wants to be a better player and that’s why he has come to our club.”

Leeds Rhinos head coach Brian McDermott is pictured with captain Kallum Watkins.

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