Kallum Watkins admits he looked at rugby union move before opting for the NRL

KALLUM Watkins has admitted he looked at a cross-code switch before deciding to move to Australia – after previously coming close to heading to rugby union.

The Leeds skipper plays his final match before linking up with NRL side Gold Coast Titans in Sunday’s crunch Super League clash with Catalans Dragons.

Kallum Watkins plays his final Leeds match on Sunday before heading to Australia

Currently, the Rhinos are in the thick of a relegation scrap, with interim coach Richard Agar admitting the R word was mentioned for the first time after Friday’s loss at St Helens.

And England ace Watkins revealed he looked at home and in the 15-a-side code – where he almost went to with Bath – before opting for Australia on a two-and-a-half year deal.

He said: “I prioritised the NRL but I also looked in Super League and rugby union. I felt it was my only chance to head to Australia.

“I’ve had interest from Australia before but it never really got too close, it was more rugby union that I was pretty close to.

Leeds Rhinos are in the thick of the relegation battle

“But I felt this time it was the only opportunity I’d get and if I turned it down I’d regret not being able to test myself and push myself.”

Watkins has sounded out former Leeds team-mate Ryan Hall, who moved to Sydney Roosters, and England team-mates Sam, Tom and George Burgess about life in Australia.

But top of the 28-year-old’s priority list is making sure the club that nurtured him into an England star over the last 12 years is in the best place to combat the drop.

However, he concedes they need more than character to get the job done.

Kallum Watkins was part of the England side that reached the 2017 Rugby League World Cup final
PA:Press Association

Watkins added: “I want to leave Leeds in the right way. I know it’s been difficult but I’m always grateful for what they’ve done over the past 12 years.

“We need a big result and performance, especially at Headingley. It’s important for us as it’s a tough time at the minute.

“It’s difficult but that’s part and parcel of the sport, you’re not on a high all the time but you’ve got to deal with these situations.

“We’ve done it a couple of times where we’ve had poor seasons and form but in the last couple of weeks we’ve showed a lot of character and spirit.

“We’ve got the character but it’s not enough.”


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