PLAYING WITH a smile on his face is bringing the best out of Castleford Tigers front-rower Liam Watts, he says.
Watts has been in outstanding form during the first three games of the season and puts that down to being happy at his hometown club.
He began his career with Tigers, but had spells with tomorrow’s opponents Hull KR and Hull before returning midway through last season.
On-field disciplinary problems contributed to his exit from Hull, but he has kept his nose clean at Cas and is enjoying his rugby again.
“I’ve picked up a few bans over the years and I was just falling out of love with the game, just picking up stupid stuff and missing games,” he revealed.
“I don’t like missing games, you get paid to play and that’s what like doing, that’s where I get my excitement.
“On a personal level I just want to be happy in my life. I’m happy at Cas at the minute and it does show in your rugby.”
Of his recent performances, Watts added: “I’m pleased with the way I’ve started the season.
“I had a sit down with Daryl [Powell, Tigers’ coach] at the start of the season and said my goal was to be the main prop-forward in the team and be the cornerstone in defence and attack.
“The onus is on me and at the moment I think I’m handling it pretty well, so long may that continue.”
Facing one of his former clubs is always special and Watts is relishing tomorrow’s clash, Tigers’ first at home for a month.
“We’ve done well in a tough start, but it won’t get any easier this week,” he predicted..
“Hull KR come into it on the back of giving up a 14-point lead against Salford last week and I’m sure they will not want to be doing that again so it’s going to be a tough game.
“I’m looking forward to it and you always want to play well against your old clubs – and it’s going to be nice to be back at home playing in front of a decent crowd.”
Meanwhile, Castleford will have a player making his debut against Hull KR on Friday after England forward Adam Milner was ruled out with injury.
Milner damaged an ankle in the Tigers’ 40-6 win over London Broncos last Saturday and, although the injury is not as severe as initially feared, he will miss the visit of the Robins. With Mike McMeeken, Oliver Holmes, Alex Foster, Mitch Clark, Jamie Ellis and Ben Roberts also sidelined, along with long-term injury victim Luke Gale, coach Daryl Powell has called up youngster Lewis Peachey alongside Cory Aston and Jacques O’Neill, who were travelling reserves at the weekend. Powell said: “It’s positive news for Adam, not for this week but on the whole. He’s had a fair bit of treatment but there is no break.
“He’s in a fair bit of pain but he will probably be available next week.
“There will be another opportunity this week for someone to make a debut. We have nobody else to come in from our senior group of players so we will give an opportunity to a young man who deserves it.”
Hull KR captain Joel Tomkins and George Lawlor miss the game while James Greenwood and Will Oakes return.
Castleford from: Aston, Clare, Clarkson, Cook, Eden, Egodo, Massey, Mata’utia, McShane, Millington, Minikin, Moors, O’Neill, Peachey, Rankin. Sene-Lefao, Shenton, Trueman, Watts.
Hull KR from: Hall, Keinhorst, Shaw, McGuire, Mulhern, Masoe, Greenwood, Hauraki, Garbutt, Lee, Jewitt, Atkin, Vaivai, Addy, Lannon, Linnett, Drinkwater, Oakes, Dagger.
Referee: Gareth Hewer.
Kick-off: 7.45pm Friday.