Castleford Tigers’ Liam Watts ‘happy to be back in the mix’

Liam Watts: Enjoyed Nines action.
Liam Watts: Enjoyed Nines action.
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CASTLEFORD TIGERS front-row Liam Watts is upbeat about his future international prospects, despite an early end to both England’s World Cup Nines tournament and his own time Down Under.

Watts was a controversial omission from Great Britain Lions’ squad for their four-game southern hemisphere tour, which begins with a Test against Tonga in New Zealand on Saturday and is now heading home after England went out of the Nines tournament, in Sydney, at the semi-final stage.

Despite being a Super League Man of Steel nominee this year, Watts has yet to convince England and Great Britain coach Wayne Bennett of his Test credentials, but feels he will benefit from his time training with the squad and pledged to put the experience to good use with Tigers in 2020.

“I have not been in camp for a lot of years, since I was 19,” said the 29-year-old former Hull man.

“It is nice to be back in the mix and being with everybody, we’ve all got on well and I’ve made some good mates.

“I am really looking forward to what the future holds.

“I am looking forward to getting back and trying hard and training hard and putting my best foot forward again for next year.”

England began their Nines campaign in bright fashion with a 25-4 win over Wales, but then suffered a shock 16-13 loss to Lebanon, who are coached by former Huddersfield Giants coach Rick Stone.

However, the Cedars were subsequently stripped of the two points gained in their opening win over France, for fielding an under-age player and were surprisingly beaten by Wales in their final group game.

That left England needing only victory against France to qualify for the semi-finals and they eased through 38-4, before their campaign ended in a 22-6 loss to New Zealand.

“It’s a little bit different,” said Watts of the Nines format.

“Sometimes I found it hard to get involved as much as I could do, but it is a learning curve and something I’ve not done previously at such a high standard.

“It has been a good experience and I think for me it was more about getting around the lads, having a good week’s training and impressing Wayne and I think I have done that.”

Australia lifted the trophy following a 24-10 win over New Zealand in the final.

England also failed to reach the last two of the women’s tournament.

After opening with a 25-4 victory over Papua New Guinea, they were crushed 42-4 by Australia and 33-4 against New Zealand.

The Kiwi Ferns went on to spring a surprise, beating the Jillaroos 17-15 in the decider.