Watch Castleford Tigers against Hull FC live on Sky Sports Arena from 7pm on Thursday.
By Sky Sports Rugby League
Last Updated: 13/06/19 10:30am
Liam Watts believes he is seeing his hard work pay off as the Castleford Tigers prop prepares to face former club Hull FC on Thursday evening.
Watts left the Black and Whites for the Tigers under something of a cloud in March last year, but has revitalised his career and is enjoying a stand-out season in 2019 which has seen him earn a call-up to the England Performance Squad.
The 28-year-old is currently the only English player in the top five of Super League’s Man of Steel standings too, but Watts is happy just to be playing his part, as Castleford aim to draw level on points with Hull when they host Lee Radford’s side in Thursday’s live game on Sky Sports.
Castleford Tigers vs Hull FC
June 13, 2019, 7:00pm
“In my career, I’ve just wanted to work that little bit harder,” Watts told Sky Sports. “I’m not blessed with speed or that sort of stuff, but I’m just trying to make my work ethic a little bit more.
“I’m doing decent averages at the minute, and I just want to work on that and keep getting better.
“As long as I keep playing like that, it gives us every chance of winning every week, and it’s helping the boys around us, that’s the key thing for me.”
Watts’ statistics for this season speak for themselves: He is averaging 138 metres per game and 38 tackles per match, along with being third in Super League for having made most marker tackles.
It is no surprise he has caught the eye of the Man of Steel judging panel then, and while it is an accolade he would be grateful to receive, the forward knows he cannot afford to let his standards drop.
“It’s very pleasing,” Watts said. “Obviously I didn’t sit down and put that down as a goal at the start of the season, that just comes with playing well.
“I’m truly blessed to be up there, and there are a lot of good players up there and it’s nice to be in the mix with them.
“I want still be there come the end of the season, so if I keep playing how I’m playing, I’ll be there and giving myself every chance every week.”
If Watts continues the same level of performances, there is a good chance he will be included in the Great Britain squad for this winter’s Test matches against Tonga, Papua New Guinea, and New Zealand.
That is something he has been targeting, having spoken to Castleford head coach Daryl Powell about it ahead of the 2019 campaign.
“I sat down with Powelly at the start of the season and said ‘this is the time now’,” Watts said.
“I’m 28, I’m probably as mature as I’m going to be as a prop and probably got my best years in front of me.
“It’s really time to put a marker down and go after that jersey. There would be nothing better than putting that jersey on at the end of the season, and it’s something I really want to do.”