Titans sign English international Watkins

Gold Coast have signed English centre Kallum Watkins until the end of 2021 and hope to have him at the club before their next NRL game.

Watkins and the Titans have confirmed his move to Australia on a two-and-a-half year deal, effective immediately after his release from Leeds Rhinos.

With 25 Tests for England, 266 games for Leeds and three Super League titles, Watkins will bring a wealth of experience to the Gold Coast backline.

But the Rhinos captain has struggled with injury and form over the past 12 months.

His messy contract matters with the Rhinos made headlines at the start of the month when the club looked to downgrade him from a marquee player deal, prompting the split after 12 years in their colours.

Gold Coast head of high performance Mal Meninga hailed Watkins' signing as a coup for the Titans, who will work with the NRL to expedite his visa process and have him on the Glitter Strip in the next two weeks.

"Kallum is an exceptional talent," Meninga said.

New Titans signing Kallum Watkins in 2017 against the Kangaroos.
New Titans signing Kallum Watkins in 2017 against the Kangaroos. ©NRL Photos

"I have had to coach against him with the Kangaroos, and he is a very dangerous player.

"Importantly for the Titans however, he is also a very experienced player and a terrific leader. As captain of the Rhinos, he has shown the leadership qualities that will be a tremendous asset for the Titans."

Watkins led the Rhinos overnight against Wigan and will slot straight into the Titans set-up when he arrives in Australia, likely before their June 29 clash with Manly after next week's rep round.

If Watkins is not available for that clash, the Gold Coast's round 16 bye will give him ample time to come into Garth Brennan's side against Penrith the following weekend.

Kallum Watkins and Josh Dugan swap jumpers after the 2017 World Cup final.
Kallum Watkins and Josh Dugan swap jumpers after the 2017 World Cup final. ©NRL Photos

Watkins paid tribute to Leeds supporters via a club statement on Saturday.

"I am excited to be going to the Titans and the new challenge for me and my family," he said.

"It has all happened so quickly but my focus for now is on helping the Rhinos climb the table. I have had so much great support from our fans, sponsors players and staff and I will be doing my best, as I always do, before I leave."