Kallum Watkins started both games in 2020. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty
Kallum Watkins started both games in 2020. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty

Star quits NRL after father contracts virus

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted the Gold Coast Titans after England international Kallum Watkins quit the NRL to be with his sick father.

Watkins has sought a release from his contract at the Titans to return to the United Kingdom after his father contracted COVID-19.

Watkins, 29, played eight matches for the Titans after arriving on the Gold Coast midway through last season.

 

He was mostly poor in his six games last year after struggling to overcome a knee reconstruction.

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But Watkins appeared to get his career back on track this year, producing a solid pre-season to impress new Titans coach Justin Holbrook and secure a Round 1 berth.

Watkins started at centre in the Titans' opening two games of the year before the NRL season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He will now not return to the NRL when the season resumes, possibly as early as May 28, after opting to move back to England.

Watkins' manager, Pacific Sports Management director Chris Orr, confirmed his client returned home to be closer to family.

"Kallum came to the NRL to prove a point and to test himself and felt confident about 2020," he said.

 

Kallum Watkins managed just eight games for the club. Picture: Jason O'Brien
Kallum Watkins managed just eight games for the club. Picture: Jason O'Brien

 

"Unfortunately his father contracted coronavirus and family comes first.

"We will now look at all of his options back in the Super League."

Watkins was an elite player in the Super League with Leeds Rhinos and has made 22 Test appearances for England since 2012.

But he is not the first English import to struggle in Australia and at the Gold Coast Titans.

In 2017, Dan Sarginson played five underwhelming NRL games for the Titans before returning to England.

The departure of Watkins will free up salary cap space for the Titans given Watkins was signed to the club until the end of 2021.

Originally published as Titans' star import forced to end NRL career


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