Switching from centre to second row has added a new dimension to Kallum Watkins and the Salford star has revealed he’s more than happy to stay in the pack.
The three-times Grand Final winner has been in sparkling form in the back row for Paul Rowley’s side after returning from a lengthy injury layoff.
The former Leeds Rhinos and Gold Coast Titans centre admits the sport has become more intense during his absence. However, a switch in position has helped him rediscover his sparkle.
“It’s been a long time coming, 11 months of rehab getting myself right and I’ve got myself into a really good place,” he tells this week’s Love Rugby League Podcast.
“Being in the second row is a new challenge for me. The game has got quicker since I’ve been out, a bit more intense. I’m getting used to the six again rule and the disciplinary.
“I took my time with the rehab and set goals to get back fit. It was important to be right mentally and do the right things off the field to make sure I was happy.”
Disciplinary debut for Kallum Watkins
Watkins looked set for another unscheduled lay-off when he received a one-match ban for dangerous contact on Jonny Lomax, but that was this week overturned on appeal. Remarkably, it was the 31-year-old’s first ever experience of a disciplinary.
“With the ban I knew I was guilty of it but it was about intent and what I was trying to do which was just stopping Jonny kicking the ball. We just collided. We didn’t feel it was reckless. It’s surreal, I’ve never been in a judiciary. I’ve only had one thing in my career which was a caution in 2011. I’ve never had any ban or appeal so I’ve never done it before. I just said a couple of words!”
Salford’s off-season recruit a revelation
With the ban overturned Watkins is key to continue in the Salford pack and a it’s the form of new boy Deon Cross has made that switch more manageable.
Watkins said: “I’m enjoying it in the back row and it’s probably added more to my game.
“Deon Cross has been a revelation at centre since he came in from Widnes. He has done really well and is quite an understudy to Ken Sio who is a top professional. He has followed his lead and does tons of extras to make sure he is in the best shape possible. He’s a talented young lad.
“For me, the opportunities are there to play in the centre but I’m not knocking on the door asking to play there. Playing in the back-row just adds another dimension. I’m enjoying it and glad to be back. It is a tough challenge in the forwards. I know how much work they have to do so that gives me more respect to those guys. I will work hard for the team wherever I’m put.”