World Cup

Watkins sets sights on rewriting World Cup history

15 Oct 22, 12:30PM 0 Comments

Written by Abi Curran

Photo by Getty Images

Kallum Watkins insists it is time to rewrite history as he prepares for his third Rugby League World Cup with England.

The Salford star remembers all too well the haunts of the last two tournaments when he featured in both sides that suffered agonising defeats.

The centre was in the England team that bowed out of the 2013 semi-final to New Zealand after a Shaun Johnson try in the dying seconds.

And 2017 brought more heartbreak — a torturous 6-0 defeat in Brisbane to Australia – when a breakaway Watkins was ankle tapped in the final moments.

The 31-year-old admits those painful memories have served as motivation as he prepares for Saturday’s World Cup opener against Samoa at Newcastle’s St James’ Park.

He said: “There are moments there that you do look back on and you want to make amends for but at the same time that’s part of the past.

“Obviously it can be a motivating factor. You bring it in when you can. I don’t think about it necessarily when I’m playing, but more in preparation.”

Watkins has been included in the provisional 19-man matchday squad and is expected to take one of the centre spots, despite playing in the back-row for Salford for much of the season following his return from an ACL injury earlier in the year.

“As a centre you can probably be in and out the game and sometimes you don’t get the ball as much as you want to,” said Watkins, who played most of his decorated career at Leeds as a centre.

“As a back-row you’re always in tackles or you always have to be alert and I like that part of the game. But any position is key especially playing for your country. The main thing is the team comes first.”

If England do make it to the final at Old Trafford, Watkins will be no stranger to the Stretford End, having played in three victorious Super League Grand Finals at Old Trafford with Leeds Rhinos.

It would also mark something of a homecoming for the veteran.

“My dad doesn’t live far off Old Trafford. We grew up in Stretford and a lot of my cousins, live near there too,” he said.

“It’ll be cool for them to see the games. With dad especially, he’s been there all the way through my career.

“The games being over here – especially the final at Old Trafford – is huge. I played a few times there with Leeds and I now have an opportunity to do that in an England shirt. It is the ultimate.”

The Rugby League World Cup promises to be the biggest, best and most inclusive event in the sport’s 127-year history with men’s, women’s and wheelchair teams competing in 61 games across 21 venues throughout England. Tickets are available via

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