Watkins released from Gold Coast over father’s Coronavirus fears

Kallum Watkins has been forced to call time on his NRL career after being granted compassionate leave to care for his father, who has contracted COVID-19.

Gold Coast Titans have granted the former Leeds Rhinos centre compassionate leave, with immediate effect, after only eight appearances with the club following a knee reconstruction.

His manager, Chris Orr, confirmed to The Courier Mail that “his father contracted coronavirus” and added that “family comes first” for Watkins in making the tough decision to end his stay in Australia prematurely, a sentiment echoed by Gold Coast Titans head coach Justin Holbrook.

“I am mostly just bitterly disappointed for Kallum – firstly that he has to endure this awful situation with health concerns with family members, and secondly that he has had to walk away from his dream of proving himself in the NRL,” Holbrook said.

“For him to have to walk away now just as he was getting back to his best is devastating for him, and for us as his friends.

“But family always comes first, and we would never stand in Kallum’s way of doing what is best for his family in a very difficult time. He leaves the Titans with our thanks and best wishes, for him and his family.”

Orr added that Watkins would “look at all of his options back in the Super League,” but the priority remains on his father’s well-being during this difficult time period.