FOR LEEDS Rhinos captain Kallum Watkins, the next three years are all about improvement – as an individual and a team.
Watkins has given Rhinos a huge boost on the eve of their crunch home clash with Wigan Warriors by extending his contract until the end of 2021.
The England centre, whose previous deal was due to expire next year, has already won three Grand Finals and the Challenge Cup and Super League leaders’ shield twice in his decade as a Rhinos first teamer, but insisted the search for “perfection” goes on. Rhinos are fourth in Betfred Super League, but will go second if they win tomorrow, and Watkins said: “We are playing pretty good, but at the same time we want to improve.
“That’s always the case with this team. We want to be better each week. We always demand to be perfect in what we do. The majority of the time that’s not going to happen, but to gain more improvement is what we want as a team.”
The next two games – against Wigan and at Hull – will be a huge tests for Rhinos. Watkins said: “We’ve got Wigan first and that’s always a big one.
“We’re coming up against a side that’s going pretty well at the minute and they’ll be pretty confident after last week’s win, but it’s the same with us.
“We are playing well, obviously we need to be better at times, but we came up with a great result last week at Wakefield.
“There was some great character from the lads and I am really proud of their efforts. We know the next couple of weeks are going to be tough, but what a challenge it is for us.”
He added: “The young fellas who’ve come in are doing a great job. They have been fantastic.
“The likes of Cam Smith, Mikolaj [Oldezki] and Walts [Josh Walters]. They want to hang on to their shirt. We’ve got a couple of players coming back these next couple of weeks so it’s going to be a headache for Mac [coach Brian McDermott] to choose a team.”
Watkins reckons Rhinos will need a nine or 10 out of 10 performances to beat Wigan, who came back from 21-0 down in last weekend’s 32-23 win at Catalans Dragons. He warned: “They are a good side and they are well-coached. They have a good coach who gets the best out of them.
“They have very talented players and they work together as a team. They never go away, we have to show them respect, but for us it’s about what we do and focusing on doing the best we can as a team. Individually we’ve each got to work on our own things and have responsibility for that, but as a group we will continue to work hard for each other and continue to show the right attitude. That is only going to make us better as a team.”
Watkins was made captain at the start of this year, and said: “I am really enjoying it; being captain is a huge honour. I am just trying to take it in my stride really and take it game by game.
“It is good experience, there’s been some ups and downs already, but it is about taking the negatives and trying to turn them into a positive and, for me, doing a job and doing what I do best.
“Doing what’s best for the team is most important, that’s what it’s all about – it’s not about individuals or myself as captain. There’s plenty of leaders in this team who lead from the front. I am just proud and blessed to be part of this team.”