KALLUM WATKINS aims to show the same fight and spirit as Covid-19 survivor dad Garry to win an England World Cup spot next year.
The 29-year-old is back in the Super League with Toronto after returning from NRL side Gold Coast Titans to support his family in Manchester after his dad was diagnosed with coronavirus.
Now 25-capped centre Watkins has set his sights on impressing England boss Shaun Wane ahead of the global tournament in October 2021.
Watkins said: “Playing for England at the World Cup is an aim. I love playing for England.
“I’ve not done it for a while but hopefully I can show Shaun Wane I’m good enough and I definitely feel like I’m a better player for going to the NRL.”
Watkins’ dad has since battled the virus and he added: “It was pretty hard to deal with. Dad was in hospital for almost two weeks but now he’s able to go out for walks in the area he lives. Thankfully, he’s doing better now.
“I’ve found myself staying at my mum’s house because when I first came home, my plan wasn’t to stay. It was always to go back.
“But even though that stopped me playing in the NRL, I had to put things into perspective.
“I’d been keeping tabs on what was going on at home in terms of lockdown as in Australia it wasn’t the same.”
With Watkins back in England and the NRL season suspended due to Covid-19, he was released from Gold Coast and snapped up by Toronto on a three-and-a-half year contract.
Watkins will be reunited at the Canadian side with Brian McDermott, who was his former coach at Leeds.
A serious knee injury set him back last year but Watkins wants to force his way back into England reckoning by helping Toronto – which had lost all of its top flight matches after promotion – succeed in Super League.
Watkins added: “Having a full pre-season in the NRL was challenging and long but I feel like I’ve got the best out of it.
“I did well in Gold Coast’s trial games and the first two NRL games of the season – what happened is just one of those things but now my aim is to win.
“Working with Brian again was an obvious push towards me signing for Toronto. It’s a great challenge to be part of and Brian has been a huge influence in my career. That made it an easier choice to make.
“I left Leeds in mid-season and I feel that was a good decision as I wasn’t in the best possible shape really.
“I could’ve played internationals last year but after an injury or two there I decided I needed that break and the time to get myself ready to play in the NRL.
“What’s happened is a bump in the road but I’m now even more determined to prove people wrong. It didn’t end how I wanted it to at Leeds.”
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