England international Kallum Watkins has been granted an immediate release from Gold Coast Titans to deal with “serious family health concerns”.
The 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.
“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,” a statement from his club read.
“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.”
Watkins has won 25 England caps – featuring at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup – and won three Super League titles while making more than 250 appearances for the Rhinos before moving to Australia in 2019.
“Kallum has only been here for a short time, but he is an immensely popular guy in the playing group,” Titans head coach Justin Holbrook added.
“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.
“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.”