Teams like Leeds Rhinos, Warrington Wolves, Hull FC, Huddersfield Giants and Castleford Tigers have all confirmed major departures ahead of the 2024 season.
Castleford have let go of big names like Blake Austin to the surprise of many.
They are aiming for a younger squad but have given a new deal to Joe Westerman and now Liam Watts in the shape of a one year deal in quite a surprise given their new approach to the squad.
Liam made his Tigers debut back in 2007, in a Challenge Cup victory over Lock Lane before leaving the club in 2008. He joined Hull Kingston Rovers, and went on to play for Gateshead Thunder (Loan), Hull FC and Doncaster (Loan) in the years that followed.
In 2018, Wattsy returned to the Fords and earned a spot in the Super League Dream team in 2019. He also featured in the Tigers Challenge Cup final appearance that year.
Watts spoke to ctrlfc.com about his extension and about what the club means to him.
“It’s good obviously I’ve not really chased it too much, I’ve just wanted to be playing as well as I could and consistently and hopefully just let the deal take care of itself. With a few of the boys that have been at the club for a long time it’s nice to be not one of them boys leaving and I’m really happy to get this over the line and get it sorted to right a few wrongs for me personally and for the club moving forward next year to set a good standard.”
“It’s going to be a massive next twelve months for me. I want to be playing consistently and playing well but it’s about mentoring and bringing a lot of stuff out of the young kids that are at the club like Muizz Mustapha and Sam Hall. These types of lads future coming through for our club so it’s going to be massive. Me personally I just want to be able to pass that knowledge on. You look at what Westy has done this year and he’s been all action so hopefully get back to playing my best rugby and now it’s all sorted, hopefully I can help in bringing them young kids through with us, spending a bit of time with them and putting effort into them pre-season. It’s going to be massive for their development.”
“I know exactly what it means to the fans. I’m a Cas lad and I’m not happy personally with how we’ve performed this year and I don’t think anybody is, so obviously that to me hurts as well and I don’t want another year of that. I didn’t want to leave this year on what we’ve just tossed up. I know what it feels to be a Cas fan, I’ve been a Cas fan, I still am a Cas fan and I’ll be a fan for the rest of my life so it’s just one of them where I want to do my best to make the fans proud.”
Director of Rugby Operations at the Fords, Danny Wilson spoke highly of Liam Watts and he too is pleased that he’ll be sticking around at Wheldon Road.
“I don’t think you could have one Jud without the other, they come as a pair. This year has been tough on a lot of the boys who have grown older together and I think for your squad to work you have to have a balance and I think that’s more the group of leaders at the top. Wattsy, Westy and McShane can do that and really lead this group of players that we’re getting next year. Wattsy had a really good end to the season. He’s a big dominant middle on his day and he knows he’s still got some miles on the clock. He’s got a point to prove he wants to finish his career on a real high at Cas Tigers so we’re really glad that he’s doing that with us.”