Former eight-game NRL player Kallum Watkins has revealed he could have joined the NRL well before 2019, and that he loved his time in Australia.

The English international centre played just eight games for the Titans in what was widely viewed as a failed move to the NRL.

Coming after a distinguished 12-year stint at the Leeds Rhinos where Watkins has scored 132 tries in 259 top-level games, he failed to find the tryline in the NRL, before his three-year contract with the Gold Coast was cut short in mid-2020 as the COVID pandemic set in.

He has been a key part of the Salford Red Devils since returning to England, with the now 32-year-old playing 56 games for the club.

Able to also play in the second-row, he revealed his enjoyment at Leeds was behind his delay in taking up an NRL deal prior to the middle of the 2019 season when he joined the Titans.

"I think at the time, I had numerous opportunities to go to Australia. Because I was so happy at Leeds and we were winning things, that's all that mattered to me. It did push off a few opportunities to go to Australia," Watkins said on the Scoring Tries Podcast.

The centre said though that when thins dropped at Leeds, he jumped at the opportunity to move to the NRL.

"I had a chance to go. Things weren't going so well at Leeds. They were moving on with other things, they were in a transitional phase where they were letting players go and stuff, and I just felt it was the right time for me to go and move on," Watkins said.

"I wanted to go to a different challenge and play in the NRL and test myself at that time.

"I was only there for the year. I was supposed to be there for three years, but COVID hit around that time.

"By the time I went there, I went mid-season. At the time the Gold Coast weren't playing well at all. It was a great experience, and I'm glad I did it."

Watkins is one of a number of English players who have tried their hand in the NRL with varying levels of success.

Often, it has been the forwards who have succeeded, although Dominic Young is beginning to change that narrative during his current stint with the Newcastle Knights, with the star winger to join the Sydney Roosters on a big-money deal for 2024.

Watkins though said he would have always regretted it if he didn't give the NRL a chance.

"If I looked back at my career, I would have always thought "what if" you know if I didn't end up going. I didn't care how it panned out in the end. If it was meant to be, it was meant to be. Everything happens for a reason I guess," he said on the podcast.

"I'm just glad I went over there. The lifestyle, the experience of it all. It was just incredible. The kids loved it, they enjoyed their time there, and a lot of the times I reminisce going back there.

Watkins has now played 323 top-flight games in the NRL and Super League, and has also played 22 Tests for England, with the last of those coming in 2022.

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