England ace Kallum Watkins says he never wanted to bring an end to his short-lived NRL career, and reveals that he was not paid by doomed Toronto Wolfpack.
The 31-year-old is finding form again with Salford after his recent return from an ACL injury, and speaking on this week’s Love Rugby League Podcast he explains how a much-hyped NRL career ended up lasting just eight games with Gold Coast Titans.
Watkins moved to Australian from Leeds mid-season in 2019, only to return the following year when his father fell ill. It was a temporary return that ended up becoming permanent, as he signed for Toronto but never played before the club went bust.
“When I came back from Australia I had no intention of signing for anyone else,” Watkins told Love Rugby League.
“But my relationship was over and the kids were still in Australia with their mum and wanted to come back for good. So I felt for me rather than go back to Australia my kids were too important. I felt if I could get an opportunity to sign in Super League again I would take it. “
No pay from Toronto Wolfpack
Watkins has maintained dialogue during his time in Australia with his former Leeds boss Brian McDermott, the new head coach at ambitious Toronto, before the franchise fell into a financial abyss.
Watkins said: “I spoke to Brian Mac a bit while I was in Australia. He had always kept tabs on me.
“He said they wanted to get me on board and it all sounded positive so I thought why not. I signed on, then Brad Singleton (former Leeds team-mate at Toronto) during Covid mentioned getting paid late and it didn’t sound good.
“I had three or four zoom calls about getting paid and it didn’t happen. The owner apologised and said we would get our money by the end of the year.
“The majority of the guys had had enough and didn’t believe what he said. I missed two months pay but had only signed for three or four months. A lot of the guys would have been a hell of a lot worse off. I just left it. One of those things.
“I feel sorry for the other guys and the staff who haven’t received anything. A crazy situation during that lockdown period, players couldn’t pay their mortgage or afford shopping. For me, I’m just grateful that I got an opportunity with Salford.”