Leeds Rhinos: Watkins has no qualms over build-up to cup final

Kallum Watkins.
Kallum Watkins.
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ENGLAND CENTRE Kallum Watkins has put his hand up to play in Sunday’s First Utility Super League game at London Broncos.

The capital clash is Rhinos’ only fixture between their Tetley’s Challenge Cup semi-final win over Warrington Wolves three days ago and the Wembley final against Castleford Tigers on Saturday, August 23.

In 2011 Rhinos faced London away in their last game before the Challenge Cup final and Watkins suffered a knee injury in a 32-22 defeat.

He recovered to play in the Wembley loss to Wigan Warriors, but aggravated the problem and missed the rest of the season, including the Grand Final triumph over St Helens.

Despite that, Watkins insisted he wants to play this weekend.

“Of course,” he said. “There is still the league to think about as well. We need to win all our games in that, because it is so tight at the top.

“We need to get the points. I guess it’s not ideal to be travelling to London the week before the final, but that’s the way it is.

“We’ve done that before - and one year we went to Catalan before the final.

“That’s all part of rugby, it’s part of what we’ve got to do and it’s part of our job. Hopefully

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we can perform well on Sunday and give ourselves a bit more confidence going into the final.

“We need to build some momentum and we need to be good. Hopefully we can go down there and build on what we did in the semi-final.

“We were very good in terms of possession and field position, the halves were outstanding and the forwards did a good job getting us into a position where we could score some tries.”

Watkins said he’s not concerned at the short gap between the semi-final and Wembley.

“We take each game as it comes,” Watkins said. “It’s only two weeks to the final and other times it has been a month, so we’ve got a shorter time preparing.

“We will focus on what we need to do in training, we’ll prepare ourselves next week and we’ll be ready to go.”

Watkins played in Rhinos’ 2011 and 2012 Cup final defeats and is relishing a return to Wembley in an attempt to make it third time lucky.

“I am very happy and pleased we got through,” he said.

“It was a very decent performance from us in the semi-final.

“We knew they would come out firing and in the second half Warrington certainly showed how good they are, but we stayed strong.

“You have to do that to be successful and in our team we have bundles of people that can perform and save tries and do the job that needs to be done during the tough stuff.”

Meanwhile, the RFL’s match review panel have decided to take no further action after looking at an incident in the semi-final when Rhinos full-back Zak Hardaker “made contact” with an eye of opposing prop Chris Hill.

The panel decided the contact was “incidental, non-deliberate”.

Speaking after the game Hill described the incident as an accident.

21 January 2018......  Castleford Tigers v Leeds Rhinos. Pre season friendly
Rhinos Kallum Watkins. Picture Tony Johnson.

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