Castleford Tigers forward Liam Watts admits he has to ‘play a bit smarter’ to both tighten up his disciplinary record and give himself a chance of international honours after a meeting with England team manager Jamie Peacock.
Watts, who signed for the Tigers earlier this week, will sit out the upcoming two games as he serves the remainder of a three-match ban imposed upon him following a red card while playing for Hull against Warrington earlier this month.
He has been shown four red cards in the last year in all, and admits he does need to tweak certain aspects of his game after speaking with Peacock.
“Obviously the RFL – for whatever reasons – are picking up on stuff now that never even got looked at two or three years ago,” he said.
“That’s me having to adapt again. I had a chat with Jamie about it and just having to adapt my game and do all the things necessary to give me the best possible chance of getting in that England team at the end of the year.”
Asked more about his meeting with Peacock, he said: “After what happened on that Friday against Warrington it was just a courtesy call, saying ‘everybody’s thinking about you and don’t throw your head into the bushes’, more or less. Keep your head held high, but just think about how the game’s adapting and changing was the message. They want a more fluent game and they are picking up on stuff now that’s never been picked up on before.
“Unfortunately, I’ve been picked up on a few occasions in the last 12 months. The game’s changing and you’ve either got to change with it or keep picking up bans like I’ve been doing. I’ve got to start playing a bit smarter.”
Watts admits, however, that he isn’t intending on completely overhauling the way he plays the sport irrespective of his disciplinary record.
He said: “I’ve had a few chats about this and I think the game has got to a stage now where it’s changing with all that little niggly stuff.. but that’s how I’ve always played, and if you have got an opponent in front of you, if you can get underneath their skin and disrupt them as much as possible, then you’ve got a great chance of winning the game.”
Watts continued: “It’s everyone in general, there’s players all over the board that have got a bit of stuff in them. You see how Sam Tomkins plays and he tries his best to get under [the skin of] any opposition. That’s just how it is. Some of my stuff’s a bit blatant, when you are six foot four you stand out a bit more than a full-back! It’s just one of those things. We are all here to learn and I am willing to learn as much as I can.”