Castleford Tigers' new boy Watts admits he'll have to clean up his game

ONLY TIME will tell whether Hull FC have done the right thing by selling Liam Watts.

Similarly, only time will tell whether Castleford Tigers have done the right thing by buying the talented prop.

It’s what makes this week’s surprise developments all the more fascinating.

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In the meantime, the player himself is happy enough with how things have panned out. And why wouldn’t he?

Although Watts conceded being “shell-shocked” that Hull – where he was a firm fans favourite as part of back-to-back Challenge Cup winning sides – no longer wanted his services, he has now found himself signed up by the reigning League Leaders’ Shield holders.

Furthermore, last season’s Grand Finalists Castleford are his hometown club. It is not a bad position to be in.

Obviously, plenty of questions yesterday when the 27-year-old was unveiled to the media surrounded comments from Hull boss Lee Radford after the six-figure transfer had been completed.

He said the decision was down to a “discipline issue” rather than football matters and questioned whether Watts’ off-field habits had limited his progress in the sport.

New Castleford Tigers' signing Liam Watts, right, with John Wells.

Watts is currently serving a three-game ban for a senseless red card after headbutting Warrington’s Dom Crosby recently, his fourth dismissal in just 11 months.

Asked about what his former coach was referring to, though, Watts said: “It is just comments that have been made and nobody knows otherwise.

“Go and ask him what he thinks my off-field issues are, but between me and you guys, there’s no off-field issues.

“It’s just rugby league at the end of the day and that’s how things happen. Obviously the club thought it was best and when I was spoken to I agreed and we’ve not left on bad terms. There’s none of that at all.

Liam Watts

“There’s still things to be done and for my own personal career I think I have the chance of a few honours here and trying to get in that England squad at the end of the year. Under Daryl (Powell) I think I’ve got a really good chance of doing that.”

Admittedly, one of Watts’ red cards last season was deemed harsh but the uncapped player knows he must change his ways to fulfil his potential.

Watts, who played for Castleford’s academy team before joining Hull KR early in his career, said: “Personally I have had a few chats about this and I think the game has got to a stage now where it’s changing and all that little niggly stuff…

“But that’s how I’ve always played and if you have got an opposition 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.

New Castleford Tigers' signing Liam Watts, right, with John Wells.

“Obviously the RFL for whatever reasons are picking up on stuff now that never even got looked at two or three years ago.

“That is me having to adapt again. I had a chat with Jamie Peacock 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.”

Former England captain Peacock, one of the great props of the modern era, is now head of rugby at Hull KR and also on Wayne Bennett’s England staff.

“After what happened on that Friday (red card v Warrington) it was just a courtesy call, everybody’s thinking about you and don’t throw your head into the bushes more or less,” explained Watts. “Keep your head held high, but just think about how the game’s adapting and changing. 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.”

Liam Watts