AS MUCH as his stellar form is prompting talk of a Great Britain call-up, Castleford Tigers prop Liam Watts maintains his profile is only rising due to extended air time.
The 28-year-old is arguably in the form of his life and will get a chance to prove his Test credentials once more when he goes up against St Helens’ England prop Alex Walmsley on Sunday’s final act of Magic Weekend at Anfield.
Staggeringly, it will be the 11th Castleford game in succession broadcast live by Sky Sports.
Uncapped Watts has been inspirational for Tigers, continuously leading from the front, playing big minutes and making more carries (259) and metres (1,926) than any other forward in Super League.
He is in the competition’s top-five tacklers, too, and it was no surprise when he was drafted into the England Performance Squad in March.
Watts – who won the Challenge Cup with Hull FC in 2016 and 2017 – certainly seems to have taken his game to another level since leaving the Airlie Birds 14 months ago.
However, he maintained: “I think I’ve been in good form anyway for the last three or four seasons. I’m getting a lot more raps but playing on the telly almost every week means that does seem to happen.
“There are other players playing well in other teams but if you’re not playing on TV and not getting the plaudits off the pundits, it can make or break you as a player.
“I have had some good games on Sky, picked up some man-of-the-match awards, and it’s really put me in the window for that international squad at the end of the year.”
Warrington captain Chris Hill, Saints duo Walmsley and Luke Thompson, Hull FC’s Scott Taylor and Hull KR’s Robbie Mulhern are all in that England 30-man squad and then there are the Burgess twins and James Graham in the NRL, too.
Watts added: “I’ve come up against some good front-rowers this season and I’ve just been making it an aim of mine not to get beat by my opposite player.
“I’ve just wanted to play better than him and that’s all I can keep doing really. Alex Walmsley’s in front of me this week.
“There’s no Luke Thompson as he’s injured but we’re vying for the same spot in England. I know it’s GB this year but it’s probably going to be the same for the (2021) World Cup as well when it’s England again.
“It’s going to be an exciting game against Saints. They absolutely walloped us at our place when we got a few things wrong. We didn’t help ourselves but we’ll look to change that this week.”
Leaders Saints won 42-12 at Wheldon Road in March and have lost just one of their 16 games all year. However, they needed a controversial last-minute winner to defeat Salford Red Devils 32-20 on Friday.
Watts added: “Saints have been the form team but it looks like they’re under a bit of pressure, scoring on the hooter to beat Salford.
“It’s getting to that stage now - 15 games in, then Challenge Cup thrown in as well - and players start to creak a little bit.
“They’re under a little bit of pressure and we’ll see what they turn up like on Sunday.”
Castleford, who sit fifth, ended a four-game losing run by winning at Leeds Rhinos last Thursday.