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Kallum Watkins agrees to leave Leeds at end of season

The centre has played 256 times for the Rhinos.

England centre Kallum Watkins is confident he can rebuild his career away from Headingley after agreeing to leave Leeds at the end of the season.

The 28-year-old, who has spent his entire career so far at the Rhinos, had another two and a half years left on the contact he signed just over 12 months ago, but was thought to have been asked to consider reduced terms.

Watkins has struggled to recapture his international form after undergoing major knee surgery in 2018 but is not expected to be short of offers and says he will consider a move to the NRL.

England Media Session – Village Hotel
Kallum Watkins has been an England regular (PA Images/Martin Rickett|)

"This was an incredibly tough decision for me to arrive at, especially as I was happy to remain at the club for the remainder of my contract," he said in a statement released by Leeds.

"However, this is an agreement that suits myself and the club. I am 28 and looking forward to a new challenge whether in Super League or abroad and I wish the club all the best for the years ahead."

Leeds say the move came about following talks with chief executive Gary Hetherington, who had suggested Watkins had attracted "plenty of attention" from other clubs after an impressive 2017 World Cup with England.

It would be no surprise if the Manchester-born Watkins, who played his junior rugby with Warrington amateur club Latchford Albion, became a target for the Wolves, who are set to let Bryson Goodwin and Ryan Atkins go at the end of the season.

Watkins, who succeeded Danny McGuire as Rhinos captain at the start of the 2018 season, has made 256 appearances for the club since making his debut in 2008, scoring 101 tries.

He is one of only a handful of players to be centrally contracted by the Rugby Football League and has won 25 caps for England, his last coming in the 2017 World Cup final after sitting out the 2018 international campaign through injury.

It is thought Leeds sought to re-negotiate the last two years of Watkins' contract ahead of more planned recruitment following another season of struggle on the field.

The club pushed the boat out in the winter by signing two marquee players in Konrad Hurrell and Trent Merrin and are already over the salary cap.

Leeds director of rugby Kevin Sinfield said: "First and foremost, I would like to thank Kallum for his outstanding service to the club and, in particular, his complete professionalism throughout this process.

"Kallum is aware of our plans for the squad moving forward and the restrictions that the salary cap has on our ability to develop this group of players.

"Kallum is one of the greatest talents this club has produced and I know he will be giving his absolute all for the remainder of the season to make sure he finishes his time here on the best possible note."

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