Watts back in training at Rovers
Hull KR have welcomed back Liam Watts today while former team-mate Ben Cockayne has resurrected his career at Featherstone.
The pair were suspended by Rovers on June 29 following an incident that led to a late-night police chase in West Yorkshire.
Cockayne, 28, who was on a final warning with the Engage Super League club, was released by Hull KR last week and today joined Co-operative Championship leaders Featherstone for the rest of the season.
Watts, 20, is awaiting the outcome of the police matter but has resumed training with his club after having the suspension lifted.
Coach Justin Morgan confirmed today that Watts is available for selection, although he will not figure in Sunday’s Carnegie Challenge Cup quarter-final at St Helens after falling to the bottom of the pecking order.
“There has been some internal discipline from the chairman and as far as we’re concerned the matter has been put to bed,” Morgan told a press conference at Craven Park.
“From day one he accepted responsibility for his actions. He’s certainly not very proud of it but it’s been put behind him and he’s really looking forward to being back with his team-mates and getting ready to play a game.
“He’ll have to show us on the training pitch that he’s up to speed but he needs to climb back up the pecking order. He’s naturally been put to the bottom of the list.
“He knows what he needs to do. I don’t expect to see immediately. From not having a ball in his hands for a few weeks, his skill level will take a week or 10 days to get back up to speed.”
Watts has sat out the Robins’ last three Super League matches and also been dropped from England coach Steve McNamara’s elite training squad, but Morgan believes the player can bounce back.
“He’s showing some good signs,” he said. “I’ve had a few conversations with him and he’s got the fire in the belly.
“Obviously he’s been dropped down to the Knights squad but his talent hasn’t changed. He’s still an extremely talented player. He needs to get his head in the right place.
“We’ve still got a huge amount of faith in his ability and what he’s going to achieve in the game.”
Cockayne, who began his career with Doncaster, was unable to join another Super League club because the transfer deadline passed earlier this month but will get the chance to put himself in the shop window at Featherstone.
“Having spoken to Ben, I know he is delighted to get the opportunity to complete the season by helping our great club achieve our potential,” said Featherstone coach Daryl Powell.
“Ben is a high-quality player who provides great energy and speed to a rugby league team. Our outside backs needed an addition with the recent departure of Liam Welham and Ben is the type of player to add significantly to the squad.”
Meanwhile, Hull KR will be boosted by the return of stand-off Blake Green and prop Scott Wheeldon for the trip to the Stobart Stadium.
Both men missed Sunday’s 21-8 win over Salford but their return leaves only front-rower Joel Clinton on the club’s injury list.
Green will renew his half-back partnership with Michael Dobson, much to the delight of Morgan.
“If you take a half-back out of any team, it’s going to be difficult,” he said. “He’s arguably been our best performer all year so it’s great to have him back.”
Morgan has played down further speculation over his future by dismissing links with a move to New Zealand Warriors.
The former Toulouse head coach is thought to be vying with Brian Noble for the Castleford Tigers vacancy but, according to media reports Down Under, has been tipped to link up with former Leeds Rhinos boss Brian McClennan at the Warriors in 2012.
“I’ve said all along I’m very happy here,” said Morgan. “There is always going to be speculation when jobs come up but I’m contracted to Hull KR and I’m 100% committed to the club.”