21st August 2019

In fact, the front-rower has been one of the form players in the Betfred Super League competition and recently provided the Tigers with a major boost by signing a new three-year contract extension.

Here, Watts discusses his new deal, being a leader in the squad and wanting to see the club continue to grow and build in future years.

“It’s been in the pipeline for a couple of months now when I originally signed, obviously after leaving Hull, I was knew that I wanted to settle back down here and probably wanted to see the rest of my time out here. I’m dedicated to the club and with the season that I’m having so far it fits in well and I’m really glad that it’s all sorted now.”

Following the news about Liam’s contract extension there was another big bit of contract news with the Head Coach Daryl Powell committing to the Tigers for an extra two years until the end 2022. Wattsy is full of praise for his coach who he thinks has a different management style to other coaches that he’s played for.

“Probably his different temperament to the other coaches that I’ve had in recent years, obviously he’s got a few years on his back and actually my grandad used to coach him so I feel he might be obliged to pass that down to me and it’s something that my grandad would have probably loved to see. He passed away about five or six years ago, he never got to see where I’ve come to now obviously winning two Challenge Cups.

“It’s just the way that he (Daryl) goes about his stuff and how he speaks to you in a manner that you respect him, I’ve got a lot of respect for Powelly, I’m not saying I didn’t have respect for my other coaches but, when you’re on a matey-matey relationship it sometimes doesn’t bode well because you might say some stuff that you shouldn’t really say.

“With Daryl I’ve got a hell of a lot of respect for him for what he’s done in the  game and as a  player he was one of the greats of the games that I’ve seen him play in, he was a great player.”

Powell himself will be pleased to have tied down Watts to a longer term deal especially given the way that he is a commanding forward on the pitch.

Injuries have plagued Castleford throughout 2019 meaning that leading players such as Luke Gale or the skipper Michael Shenton have had to watch from the side lines. This has meant players like Watts have stepped up to the plate, not only playing big minutes for the side but also becoming one of the leaders within the squad.

“I was a bit of a leader at Hull as well probably in a different manner more of a leader on the field than off the pitch, I think now with coming back here I’ve got to watch what I’m doing and what I’m saying and setting a good role model for myself and I’m glad it’s happened this way.

“I’m coming up to 29 now, it’s about having that old head on my shoulders now and just enjoying life. It makes a big difference, when you’re uptight all the time and stuff is not going your way it does actually tend to find its way onto the pitch and I think that’s what was happening to me at a stage.

“Now I’ve come here, I’m calm and I’m enjoying life and everything is just fitting together and I’ve just got such a good mix going on at the minute so it’s really going well for me, enjoying my time and I hope to just keep it going until the end of the season.”

With his impressive performances this campaign, Watts was rewarded with a place in Wayne Bennett’s England Elite Performance Squad, alongside fellow Tigers Luke Gale and Jake Truman, an aim he had been working towards for a number of years and now at the end of this year there is also the possibility of being selected for the Great Britain Lions squad for a four-match tour in New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

“I think with me coming here it’s got me away from that rep what I had at Hull, I was getting a bit of a bad rep for myself not that I was a bad person I was playing aggressive but I think now I’ve settled down I’ve calmed down a hell of a lot, I’m not as erratic and that’s probably got me in the England setup now. From a few conversations that I’ve had with the England coaches it’s all in my hands now and I’ve just got to keep playing well to keep my face in there.”

Heading into the final three games of the Betfred Super League season, Cas sit in sixth place in Super League, outside of the play-off places on points difference, but the team aren’t giving up hopes of forcing their way into the top-five despite a tough run in with games against St Helens, Hull FC and Wigan.

“We haven’t given up on that, that is our main goal to get in that top five. With the players that we’ve lost and the scenarios we’ve had with players coming in, players coming out it does affect that consistency that you want in a game and that’s hard when there’s people coming in and out.

“We’re coming to the business end now and we’ve got to be on it every week, we’ve got keep picking up as many points as we can and it’s going to be vital going into that top five.”