Castleford forward looks to enhance international claims

Liam Watts.
Liam Watts.

Pack star Liam Watts is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Adam Milner and Oliver Holmes from last year by playing his way into the England set-up.

Watts faces some big competition from all the prop forwards available to England boss Wayne Bennett, but has been challenged by head coach Daryl Powell to play so well for Castleford Tigers that his claims cannot be ignored in 2019.

On his international chances, the 28-year-old hometown boy, who returned to Cas from Hull last year, said: “It is always in the back of your mind.

“I’ve sat down with Daryl and he wants to try and get me in there.

“I just think there’s a few areas I need to tidy up game-wise, but I am working on that in training and hopefully that shows on the park.

“The most successful teams, like Leeds over the years, Wigan, St Helens, they all have eight or nine players that are in and around the international game. We are trying to get that as much as we can.

“We had a couple last year with Oggy and Adz and I think Macca (Paul McShane) has been very hard done by.

“Galey (Luke Gale) is in there, Truey (Jacob Trueman) is with the Knights and Mike (McMeeken) has been in the England squad so we are trying to build the number of players who are on the international scene.”

After joining part way into last year Watts reckons he will benefit from his first pre-season back with Castleford.

“I’ve been really enjoying it. It has been intense and physical and we’ve had a real good crack.

Last year I didn’t think it was going to be as hard as it actually was. It’s my hometown club, I’ve been here before and I know everybody, but it’s tough.

“I didn’t realise how hard it was going to be, being with one set of lads and then coming to a team that’s totally different in every aspect.

“It was hard in certain situations, but in the last six weeks I really got my head down and wanted to do the best I could.

“I wanted to get to a Grand Final last year, we just came short, but we have got that chance again this year and I’ve been trying my hardest from day one.

“I’m not saying I wasn’t trying my hardest last year, but I was having to put time into other things. Now I am fully focused on the job in hand.”

Despite his reservations, Watts felt he played well in 2018.

He added: “I thought I was very consistent last year.

“That’s how I am anyway, personally in my life in and out of rugby.

“I am having to work on different areas to bring the best to the team that I can. It is totally different to the style I was used to, we have got threats all over the park so you’re not just relying on certain people to do certain stuff. It’s just finding a way how I can exploit that and bring my best to the team.”