KALLUM Watkins insists England’s World Cup chances are a matter of faith – as is Andy Ackers’ promotion to the squad.
But he feels as good as he did in 2017, when he arguably got an ankle knock from helping his country to the trophy.
The Salford star is one of three Red Devils in Shaun Wane’s 24-man party, half-back Marc Sneyd is the other.
And he revealed how the hooker Ackers’ sensational form, which earned him a spot after playing part-time rugby league with the Swinton Lions, is largely due to him convincing himself he’s good enough .
Watkins said: “A mix of experienced players and coaching staff helped Andy.
“Salford’s manager Paul Rowley gave him the confidence to just go out and play.
“It showed on the field, he was great – especially towards the end of the year. He was the best hooker in the Super League.
“Andy is quite humble in the way he thinks and sees things, but he’s been consistent in what he’s done this year. He just wants to do his best for his family and the team.
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“If you play well those opportunities will come and for me he is a top operator. It was just about getting that confidence and a chance that he’s going to grab with both hands.
“Both Andy and Marc will bring confidence to the tournament with their form, especially mid to late in the year.
“Marc has always been a player who likes to control the game. His kicking game is always spot on and Andy has continued to develop year after year, he has gained that confidence to support himself a lot more.
“How much it means to them was evident in their reactions to the selection. Marc was amazed. He’s been waiting for this opportunity for a long time and has come close a couple of times – but this is his time.”
Watkins will play at centre, despite showing up for Salford in the second row as England look to match their next miss from 2017, a 6-0 final defeat by Australia.
The road has been far from smooth — two serious knee injuries, a midseason move to the NRL, and various other issues.
But a new mentality has seen the 31-year-old rejoin the Kallum Watkins many fans know – the one who was agonizingly tapped on the ankle by Josh Dugan as he broke into Brisbane.
He added: “Things have changed off the field but in terms of my mental state and how I’m on the field, I’m pretty much the same in 2017.
“It’s good because it gives me a lot of confidence when I go to camp. This year has been really good, both on and off the pitch. I’m happy where I am in life.
“I get memories of the ankle knocker every now and then, they just remind me of how close we came to winning it. For us it’s all about believing in it and everyone in a really good squad is here for a reason.
“We have a tough opponent ahead of us – it’s a challenge, but that’s the way it should be.”
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/6352635/kallum-watkins-england-rugby-league-world-cup/ Kallum Watkins says England’s World Cup chances depend on mindset – much like Andy Ackers’ rise