Watkins ready for international baptism of fire
England Rugby League centre Kallum Watkins is in the form of his life and the young Leeds Rhinos three-quarter is looking forward to making a huge impact on the international scene.
Watkins, who has been part of the England Elite Squad since the start of the year has had a big campaign at club level with a World Club Challenge and a Super League Grand Final winners’ medals under his belt, he is now ready to add international glory to his growing collection.
“English Rugby league is in good shape and we have some great players ready for the pressures of the international game,” said Watkins, who is currently training with England in South Africa ahead of the Autumn International Series.
“We have to prepare to the best we can be and even though we are not facing Australia or New Zealand we cannot underestimate the Welsh and the French. They will want to really give it a go and try to upset us. They have nothing to lose.
“I didn’t know what to expect when I came out to South Africa. The facilities where we are staying are top class and everything is looked after, from what we eat to how we train. The camp is spot on and very intense.
“I have found training quite tough. The biggest thing is getting back into the swing of things after the end of the season. I had some time off after the Grand Final and then you ramp it up again when you come out here. Mark (Bitcon) our conditioner has told us that when we get back to England we should really feel the benefits of the hard slog out here.”
The 21-year-old speedster is likely to make his full England debut, when Steve McNamara’s team take on Wales in their opening game of the Autumn International Series at Wrexham on Saturday October 27 (2.30pm) and he is awe of playing alongside the very best the English game has to offer.
“Steve McNamara (England coach) keeps on telling us that every time we train and play we have to be on it and be at our best,” added Watkins. “For me it is real privilege to be training in the same team as some of the best players we have. I enjoy the camaraderie and relish the rivalry to be the best you can be. I know to be part of the England set-up I have to be on my game. Every time I run out and play, I set myself high standards so I can challenge myself against the best. “
England’s opening match in the Autumn International Series will see them face Wales at the Glyndwr University Racecourse Ground in Wrexham on Saturday October 27 (2.30pm).
Their first ‘home’ fixture takes place a week later, Saturday November 3, at MS3 Craven Park in Hull when England host France in a match which also kicks off at 2.30pm.
The Autumn International Series concludes with the final at Salford City Stadium on Sunday November 11 (5.00pm).
Tickets for the 2012 Autumn International Series cost just £12 for adults and £6 concessions and can be purchased by calling the RFL Ticket Office on 0844 856 1113 or by visiting www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk