Kallum Watkins still holds out England hopes despite Covid-19 shutdown

KALLUM Watkins hopes to keep the heat under his England hopes under new boss Shaun Wane – even though Covid-19 shutdown has turned the ovens off.

The former Leeds star was hoping to get back to his best after a full pre-season at NRL side Gold Coast Titans and finally getting over a serious knee injury.

But just two matches in, rugby league down under was suspended like it has been over here, leaving him training with wife Sophie in the back garden before returning to the UK.

A planned May 28 restart came as a surprise but Watkins has matters closer to home, yet further away from where he is based now, to consider – not least a serious family illness.

Also will he get back into the national team, ideally against Australia in Autumn, and will dad Gary restart his job in a school’s kitchen?

The centre, who has headed home but will go back to Australia and hopes to honour his NRL contract, said: “Dad had started working in the school kitchens, so after all the schools got closed, he had to stop doing that.

“My parents are fine, they’re just at home trying to keep themselves busy. There’s nothing much they can do at this moment in time but they’re good.

“Speaking to family back home, over here is not as weird. Coffee shops and food places are open but only for takeaway but everything is shut in the UK.

“I think we’re a couple weeks behind the UK but it’s getting stricter.”

SunSport understands rugby league bosses in the northern hemisphere have more than four potential restart points and the Ashes series has not yet been axed.

Even though that prospect looks increasingly certain, Watkins holds out hope it will be on and he wants to be part of it.

He added: “The Ashes series against Australia is huge but at the same time it depends when both competitions get back underway and if they could fit it in.

“I haven’t played for England since the 2017 World Cup, so I feel I have to earn my spot, meaning when we do play I need to be playing at my best.

“And Shaun is a great appointment. I know how much it means to him to be the head coach of England.

“He’s been one of the most successful coaches in Super League and what he did at Wigan was fantastic. I have massive respect for him.”

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