Watkins: We’ve prepared for Wigan’s best

Kallum Watkins in action against Huddersfield last week
Kallum Watkins in action against Huddersfield last week
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Kallum Watkins is “on guard” to try and ensure Wigan don’t ruin his milestone moment.

The England centre celebrates his 200th game for Leeds in tonight’s Headingley blockbuster.

And he knows the Warriors have the arsenal to get the two points which would see them leapfrog the Rhinos in the Super League table.

“They are the champions so for us it is a huge game and for them as well,” said Watkins. “I know they’ve had a few injuries and a few players out, but they’ve got some players coming back in now. We have got to prepare for their best.

“They lost last week against Hull, but they’ll still be confident in what they can do.

“They will be confident they can come here and get a result so we’ve got to be on our guard, we’ve got to play well and if we do that we will give ourselves the best opportunity to win.”

Already a two-time Challenge Cup and Super League Grand Final winner, the 26-year-old reckons he could have “10-plus more years, hopefully” ahead of him as a player.

He has featured in Rhinos’ last 43 competitive games and has played every moment - a total of 3,420 minutes - during that run.

“For me it is crazy, because around the time I was injured it was a bit stop-start after it and I was struggling to get a good run of games,” he recalled. To get a good run of games for the last couple of years have been huge for me and it has been a big part of my career just to keep that run going and be consistent.”

Watkins has scored 112 tries for Leeds - and four goals - and reckons there will be more to come with Rhinos’ attack finally beginning to click.

“We are playing quite well at the minute,” he said. “We really like to play, that is the main thing for us. We have got a bit of structure in our play to give ourselves an opportunity to apply pressure to other teams.

“For us it is just about backing ourselves at times when we need it. If we try to score on every play we make it hard for ourselves at times, but we are playing well with the ball at the minute and also in D [defence].

“We are saving tries and last week was a huge example of that. We did a lot of defending and saved a few tries and that helped us to push on and get a good result.”

Coach Shaun Wane is a big admirer of the Leeds centre.

“He’s an outstanding player, an outstanding athlete, and someone I’ve always admired,” said Wane. “When I’ve met him at functions he’s well-mannered, and Leeds have been very lucky to have him at their club for so long. I rate him highly.”