Kallum Watkins embarrassed by Leeds Rhinos' Challenge Cup loss to Bradford Bulls
By Sky Sports Rugby League
Last Updated: 13/05/19 7:18pm
Kallum Watkins has spoken about the embarrassment he felt after Leeds Rhinos slumped to a Coral Challenge Cup defeat at the hands of Bradford Bulls.
Saturday's 24-22 loss in the sixth-round derby clash away to the Championship side heaped more misery on the Rhinos, who sacked head coach David Furner six months into a three-year contract last week, and are currently languishing 10th in Super League.
Some Leeds fans blasted the performance as "embarrassing" on social media after the game, and skipper Watkins understood their perspective, admitting to feeling the same emotion following the defeat against their old rivals at Odsal.
"They've got every right to have that opinion, and I felt the same after the game," Watkins told Sky Sports.
"You're going around trying to clap the fans, and it's hard to do that after a performance like that, but we looked at it and we've only got ourselves to blame for that.
"Performance-wise, it wasn't great. Our discipline and errors let us down, and it doesn't matter who you play if you're not doing everything collectively and doing right those one-percenters that are going to get you the win.
"It's a learning curve for a lot of the players as well, because I think we got a little bit too emotional about the fact we were playing Bradford and it was a derby game. We just needed to stick to our jobs and that would have helped push us getting the right result."
Watkins was part of the Leeds team which won the Super League Grand Final, League Leaders' Shield, and Challenge Cup in 2015. However, the club's fortunes have fluctuated since then, with difficult years in 2016 and 2018 sandwiching another Grand Final triumph in 2017.
The 28-year-old centre believes the team are still adapting following the departure and retirement of several influential members of the squad in recent seasons, not to mention having to adjust to another new head coach following Furner's dismissal.
Richard Agar is the man now tasked with overseeing first-team affairs, albeit on a caretaker basis, but Watkins is in no doubt the players have to take responsibility for turning fortunes around, starting when Castleford Tigers visit Headingley for the Thursday night Super League game.
"It is difficult at this moment in time, but there has been a lot of transition and a lot of changes have been made, but at the same time we've had to focus on preparing as best we could week in, week out, and getting the performances out there," said Watkins.
"The start of the season hasn't been good enough, hasn't been consistent enough, and we know that. If we get on top of a couple of little things and a couple of one-percenters we need to improve on, it'll turn itself around.
"It's down to the group, the guys up top make these decisions [sacking Furner] based on the club being first, and we need to continue that in terms of how well we train and the performances on the field need to improve. We, as a group, have a responsibility for that."