Leeds Rhinos: Watkins is determined to play his part on big Grand Final stage

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PLAYER OF the year Kallum Watkins is confident of being fit for Saturday’s First Utility Super League Grand Final against Wigan Warriors.

Watkins had an injury scare in last Friday’s semi-final win over St Helens and left the ground wearing a protective boot.

Kallum Watkins

Kallum Watkins

But he insisted it would take more than an ankle twinge to keep him out of the biggest game of the year.

“I am okay,” said Watkins, who missed two matches last month due to a similar problem.

“I just caught my ankle underneath me, pretty similar to what I did in the Challenge Cup final.

“It is just precautionary. I did all the tests out on the pitch and it seemed pretty fine, I just had to run it off.

“It was all right and I will do everything I can to get myself as fit as possible for the final.”

Watkins missed the 2011 Grand Final through injury, but played the last time Leeds won the Super League trophy, the following year. A win in this weekend’s sold out showpiece would complete the treble and make this the most successful year in Leeds’ history.

He said: “It has been a fantastic season for us.

“We’ve had a couple of dips, but you do have tough moments and pulling through that is what it’s all about.

“We’ve certainly done that this year and we fully deserve to get to Old Trafford and to have chance to try and get another piece of silverware.

“To play at Wembley and Old Trafford in one season is amazing, it’s what you dream of as a kid and it’s games like this you want to be part of.

“It is fantastic for the boys and the club. It is something we have aimed for and now we’ve just got to make sure we prepare well, we give ourselves the best chance to perform on the night and, hopefully, we can come away with the result.”

Rhinos have had only one weekend without a game since their season began on February 9 – and that was after just two fixtures had been played.

Saturday will their 36th competitive game of the campaign, but Watkins – who has missed only four matches all year – reckons there is another big effort left in them. “It was a fantastic game on Friday and a great game to be part of,” he said of the semi-final win over Saints.

“We’ve played a lot of games this year and there were some sore bodies after Friday, which was a tough and intense game, one of the toughest I’ve been a part of in my career.

“But we are doing everything we can to recover and make sure we are well prepared for Saturday.”

Wigan were runners-up on the league table, trailing Rhinos only on points difference.

The teams have an identical win and loss record and have each won two of their four meetings this year. “They are a great side and a great club,” Watkins said of Saturday’s opponents.

“They pride themselves on getting some silverware and getting to finals and they have certainly earned their place at Old Trafford.

“We know it is going to be a tough game. This season it has been nip and tuck between the two teams and it’s going to be very interesting to see how it goes in the final. There will be special moments, but doing the right things at the right times is the key.”

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