Leeds Rhinos: Watkins is prepared to ‘wing it’ for Rhinos

Kallum Watkins. PIC: Steve Riding
Kallum Watkins. PIC: Steve Riding
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ENGLAND ACE Kallum Watkins has admitted it will take time getting used to a new position – even if he hasn’t moved far on the field.

Watkins switched from centre to the right-wing for Leeds Rhinos’ 41-16 win at St Helens last week and could continue in that role at home to Warrington Wolves on Friday.

The switch was enforced with both Rhinos’ first-choice wingers on the sidelines. Ash Handley has stepped up from the under-19s and is averaging a try per game, but Leeds don’t have a specialist wide-man ready to take over on the other flank

Watkins said: “It is different playing on the wing. You’re not tackling a lot, to be honest, but in terms of making decisions it’s a bit different to when you’re playing as a centre.

“That’s something I have to get used to, but I’m not uncomfortable playing there, it is how it is. We’ve got a couple of injuries to Tom (Briscoe) and Ryan (Hall) and that’s big for us, because they are outstanding players.

“They are missed, but we all have to go out there and put in a performance. If that means me being on the wing, I’ve got to go out and do a job.

“I tried to do that last week and I thought it went okay. It was very different to playing in the centres, but I was really happy we got a win against a good team.”

The victory last week lifted Rhinos six points clear at the top of the table – the biggest gap in Super League since Wigan Warriors were three wins ahead of the pack in 2010. Rhinos have now played all their rivals once and are looking destined for at least a top-four place when Super League splits after 23 rounds.

That is important as the leading quartet get four home games in the Super-eights competition, which will decide the semi-finalists who will compete for a place in the title decider at Old Trafford. Rhinos have a 10-point advantage over fifth-placed Huddersfield Giants, who they play a week tomorrow, but Watkins insisted there is no chance of them putting their cue on the rack.

“We just want to keep the run going,” Watkins said.

“That is the focus, taking one game at a time.

“I know everyone says that. We realise we have got a bit of a gap now, but we can’t take our foot off the gas.

“We have got to keep going. We have got a couple of tough games coming up in the next few weeks and if we can get results from those it will be a big step for us.

“We can’t afford to ease off now, we have got to continue to focus and play well. We had a big game last week and the result was very pleasing, but it was a tough game.

“The first half was brilliant and the tries we scored were fantastic, but we knew Saints would come out in the second half fired up and try and go for it. That’s credit to them, they are a great side and they are champions for a reason.

“We knew they would come back at us, but we dealt with the pressure really well and we came up with the win.”