The Gold Coast Titans have granted a request from English Test centre Kallum Watkins for an immediate release from his NRL contract, so that he can return to the United Kingdom for personal reasons.
Watkins joined the Titans in the middle of the 2019 NRL season from the Leeds Rhinos, committing to the Gold Coast until the end of the 2021 season.
Watkins has played 25 Tests for England and over 250 games for the Rhinos in Super League, scoring in excess of 100 tries. He is a three-time premiership winner with the Rhinos, as well as a two-time Challenge Cup champion.
After a period of recovery from a knee reconstruction and adjustment to the NRL last year, a terrific pre-season had the 29-year-old set to deliver his best for the Titans in 2020.
However, some serious family health concerns have forced Watkins and his family to immediately move his family back to the UK, bringing his time at the Gold Coast – and his long-stated desire to prove himself in the NRL – to a premature end.
Titans Head Coach Justin Holbrook said Watkins would be a big loss for the Club, and badly missed.
“Kallum has only been here for a short time, but he is an immensely popular guy in the playing group,” Holbrook said. “Every day he exhibited the qualities that the Club wanted from him – namely his leadership and his professionalism.
“I am mostly just bitterly disappointed for Kallum – firstly that he has to endure this awful situation with health concerns with family members, and secondly that he has had to walk away from his dream of proving himself in the NRL.
“He worked incredibly hard in the off-season, and that hard work was evident in the form we saw from him at the start of the season – in the trial against the Broncos, and then our two premiership games against Canberra and Parramatta.
“For him to have to walk away now just as he was getting back to his best is devastating for him, and for us as his friends.
“But family always comes first, and we would never stand in Kallum’s way of doing what is best for his family in a very difficult time.
“He leaves the Titans with our thanks and best wishes, for him and his family.”