Rhinos tie down Kallum Watkins to five-year deal

England centre Kallum Watkins has signed a new five-year contract with Leeds Rhinos.

The 23-year-old, who is widely considered to be the best centre in Super League, is a product of the Rhinos academy and has scored 72 tries in 128 appearances for the club.

His new deal will keep him at Headingley until the end of the 2019 season.

“I never wanted to play for any other club than Leeds,” Watkins said.

“I am pleased we have been able to agree a new deal that keeps me here for the future. I have got a young family and the chance to be part of this team as we develop over the next few years is something I am very excited about.

“The [Challenge] cup final last year was very special and it has whetted the appetite for what is to come in 2015. We were all disappointed that we could not get back to Old Trafford last season but I am sure that will drive us on in pre-season to make sure we are ready to go one better in next season.

“We have got a tremendous group of players at the Rhinos and a great coaching team and together I think we can achieve even more over the next few years. The last decade has been an incredible time for the Rhinos and it has been special to be part of that. Our challenge is now to build on that and continue that period of success in the years to come.”

Leeds Chief Executive Gary Hetherington added: “Kallum’s contract is a significant announcement for the Rhinos and for the England team as well ahead of this weekend’s crucial clash with Australia.

“To have our best young talent committing to not just Rugby League but Super League as well, is a major boost to our game and one that should not be underestimated. A player as talented as Kallum will inevitably be coveted by the NRL and rugby union however his determination to be part of the Rhinos future is something that I am sure will get all our supporters excited.”