Kallum Watkins leaves Gold Coast to return home and deal with family illness
England international Kallum Watkins has been granted an immediate release from Gold Coast Titans to deal with “serious family health concerns”.
The Australian NRL club announced the former Leeds Rhinos player would immediately return to the UK.
Watkins’ agent, Chris Orr, told the Courier Mail that the player’s father had contracted coronavirus.
A statement from his club read: “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.
“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 added: “Kallum has only been here for a short time, but he is an immensely popular guy in the playing group.
“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.
“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.”
Watkins made more than 250 appearances for the Rhinos before moving to Australia in 2019.