FEROCIOUS PACE: The 21-year-old in action
ON FRIDAY night (February 22) the all-conquering Leeds Rhinos will get the opportunity to win their second consecutive World Club Challenge cup when they take on Australia’s Melbourne Storm.
Since 1989 the World Club Challenge has pitted the Super League champions of Europe against the top side of the National Rugby League, which includes the best teams from both Australia and New Zealand.
In last year’s contest Leeds defeated Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 26-12 and young Rhino Kallum Watkins scored a try that day.
The 21-year-old centre made his Leeds debut back in 2008 and has been an integral part of their squad that won the Super League Grand Final in 2011 and 2012.
Reminiscing about last year’s triumph and looking forward to the prospect of winning more silverware on home turf at Headingley Carnegie Stadium against the Storm, Watkins told the Voice of Sport: “It was a really good experience playing at our own ground. We got about 20,000 in so we pretty much filled the ground.
“It’s special for the club and obviously as individuals it’s the chance to be world champion at the end of the day. It’s massive in terms of your career. It’s what you dream about.
“It’s going to be a tough, physical battle between two great teams. There’ll be plenty of skills and excitement. As a rugby fan it’s a massive game.”
For two seasons running, Leeds have finished fifth in the Super League standings and yet have still managed to win the Super League Grand Final, and Watkins credits their ability to win when it matters most due to the Yorkshire club’s undying self-belief.
Watkins explained: “When it comes to the backend and times are getting really important, we’ve got a lot of experience. It’s that belief in your team as well. You’ve got some great players that have performed well at the big stage and your young players that are learning from them and they take that experience on hand.”
A powerful back with ferocious pace, the 6ft 1in Watkins was rewarded for his exemplary club form last season that saw him score 19 tries in 26 games, with a call-up to the England squad in the autumn international series.
He went on to touch down twice on his England debut against Wales in October and scored a hat-trick against France in November.
“To be around such great players and representing country, you always dream of that as a sportsman,” said Watson. “It was a dream come true and it’s something to build on as well. It gives me more of an incentive, more of a target to carry on doing what I’m doing. The World Cup is this year so that’s even more of an incentive to play consistently at your club.”
STAND AND DELIVER: Watkins on England duty
As mentioned by Watkins, the 2013 World Cup takes place later this year in England in October, and even though he is fully focused on upcoming competitions like the World Club Challenge, there is an almost giddy-like excitement to Watkins’s voice when he speaks about the major international tournament.
“I can’t wait to hopefully be a part of it or even to spectate it,” added Watkins. “It’s massive for our country and for Super League and for all the leagues that are in this country. As individuals and as a country you want to be world champions. It’s big for us.”