Liam Watts backs Castleford Tigers to find the necessasy character
CASTLEFORD TIGERS’ play-offs win at Warrington Wolves capped a memorable few days for front-rower Liam Watts.
The former Hull prop was Sky TV’s man of the match, the day after being confirmed on a five-strong shortlist for the Steve Prescott Man of Steel award and at the end of a week which began with him being named in the Betfred Super League Dream Team.
“It has topped off what has been a good week,” Watts said of the 14-12 victory which left Tigers two wins away from a second Grand Final in three years.
“I said before the game it (the individual accolades) wouldn’t mean anything if we didn’t win so I put all the effort I had left into that and now I’ve got to do it all again next week.”
Watts had only a brief rest in the second half against Warrington and insisted the is happy to do long spells.
He was also determined to make up for a below-par effort in the previous week’s defeat at Wigan Warriors.
“It’s about intensity,” he said.
“I know I am going to be playing big minutes so it’s me being at my best for 70 minutes or however long Powelly (coach Daryl Powell) wants to keep me out there.
“I’ve just got to keep grinding and get on with it and it does seem to bring the best out of me.”
Watts added: “I knew I needed a big game, I wasn’t happy at all last week.
“I was pretty upset with myself at not taking the team forward.
“That’s what my game is, so I knew I had to lead from the front.”
Tigers will be in sudden death action again next Thursday away to Salford Red Devils who went down 18-12 at Wigan Warriors last night.
Watts stressed: “It doesn’t make a difference who we play, obviously we have got to be at our best every week.
“It’s knockout footy, that brings the best out of you and I thought (on Thursday) we were really on.”
The performance at Warrington was a huge step up from seven days earlier at DW Stadium, when out of sorts Tigers were beaten 26-8.
“We went away from everything we’ve been working hard on and personally, I just wasn’t at the races,” Watts said of that disappointment.
“Wigan is a tough place to play and if you’re not on your game you are going to get beaten. In the second half we started slow and it was the same at Warrington so we have got to tidy that up for next week.”
Tigers led 6-0 at half-time, but had to dig deep after Warrington levelled the scores early in the second period and then – after Cas went 14-6 ahead – reduced the gap to two points with 10 minutes left.
“There was a lot of character and that’s what we’re trying to build,” Watts said. “We’ve been building for four years and it’s time we started putting together all the stuff we’ve been working hard on.
“We have got some quality players on the sideline, but the lads who’ve come in have been outstanding.
“We made a few changes from last week, Jamie (Ellis) dropped to the bench and I thought Pete (Mata’utia) was outstanding, took them on really well. Our backfield was outstanding and really got us on the front foot.”