England’s Kallum Watkins on how Salford Red Devils revived his career

Kallum Watkins has thanked Salford Red Devils for helping him earn a place in England’s World Cup squad.

Salford have three representatives in Shaun Wane’s 24-man squad for the tournament, including the uncapped duo of Marc Sneyd and Andy Ackers.

Watkins is no rookie to the international scene, having worn the shirt 25 times during his sparkling Leeds Rhinos career, but a run of serious injuries meant that England’s World Cup final defeat to Australia in 2017, when Watkins was famously denied a try that could have levelled the match by an ankle tap, appeared to have been his final cap.

That all changed this year as he made a successful return to the team at Salford, where he has played since 2020, and was rewarded with a return to the England fold for their match against the Combined Nations All Stars in June.

His form since then, playing in a back-row position rather than the customary centre spot he is likely to return to at the World Cup, has been maintained as he helped the Red Devils reach the Super League play-off semi-finals.

And 31-year-old Watkins admits it has been quite a journey: “At the start of the year I was in rehab with my ACL, so I didn’t think the opportunity would come. 

“For me it was just about getting back playing and getting my confidence and my love of the game back. 

“The year that Salford have had has helped me in terms of my performances, the guys across the field have been great. That’s made my performances even better and given me the opportunity to be here.”

Watkins is pleased to have club team-mates Sneyd and Ackers alongside him in the England camp, and to see their performances this year being recognised.

He said: ”Those two have been given the opportunity and I know they were both emotional about (their call-ups). I feel they’ve deserved it with the year they’ve had. 

“It’s great for them and the Salford club as well, which has had some tough times over the past few years but we’ve managed to be competing in finals or getting to finals.”

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