Kallum Watkins opens up on Leeds Rhinos departure
By Sky Sports Rugby League
Last Updated: 10/06/19 3:25pm
Kallum Watkins believes it is the right decision for both him and Leeds Rhinos that he will leave the Super League club at the end of the 2019 season.
The Rhinos captain signed a new four-year contract in April last year, but just last week it was announced Watkins would be departing Headingley once the current campaign has concluded.
The 28-year-old has subsequently been linked with moves to other Super League clubs, the NRL and rugby union, although he has yet to announce any decision on where his future beyond this season lies.
But, speaking exclusively to Sky Sports, Watkins is in no doubt it is the right time for him and Leeds to part ways 11 years on from his senior debut for the club.
"It was a tough decision to make, but at the same time I think it's a good decision for myself and the club," Watkins said.
"I don't want to go too much into the details; it's something private between me, the board and Gary (Hetherington, chief executive). For me, it was just about telling the boys and making sure they're all right.
"It was a bit of a shock to everybody. At the same time it's something I'm obviously gutted about, but for me and my family I think it's something I'm looking forward to as well."
News of Watkins' impending departure came midway through a season which has seen Leeds struggle near the bottom of the Super League table and sack head coach David Furner just six months into a three-year contract.
Last Friday's hard-fought 10-0 win away to Wakefield Trinity saw the Rhinos make it back-to-back wins for the first time this year, though, and Watkins vowed to give his all for the club to ensure results get back to the levels expected before he moves on.
The centre revealed the need to maintain his focus was a factor in his decision to quit social media as well.
"It was too distracting," Watkins said. "I was on my phone too much sometimes and my missus did make a great point about the state of mind.
"I understand the fans can have their opinions and it's great, but it doesn't need to be personal and I think that's why it upsets her so much because it ends up being personal and you get to see criticism in a different way. I take criticism fine; I react better to certain kinds of criticism.
"It's when it gets personal, that's when it upsets your family members because it doesn't need to be that way."
To watch the full interview, download 'Kallum Watkins: Leaving Leeds' via Sky On Demand.