Castleford Tigers star Liam Watts aims to clean up in 2023

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Liam Watts has vowed to improve his disciplinary record after a nightmare year with Castleford Tigers in 2022.

The experienced prop remains a key player at The Mend-A-Hose Jungle, but had a stop-start campaign last time round after picking up six suspensions that forced him to sit out nine of the club's 29 matches.

Last season’s disciplinary clampdown hit Watts more than most and he has been working with the Tigers coaching staff to improve his tackling technique in 2023.

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He explained: "When I look back now and pick the bones out of it, I just think I got the year all wrong.

Castleford Tigers prop Liam Watts is aiming to cut out the suspensions in 2023.Castleford Tigers prop Liam Watts is aiming to cut out the suspensions in 2023.
Castleford Tigers prop Liam Watts is aiming to cut out the suspensions in 2023.

"I could say the bans were harsh or I could say they were fair, but it doesn't make a difference.

"It doesn't look good on me. I've done some stupid stuff in the past but these are crappy little two-game bans. I didn't miss them five or six years ago for worse.

"It does get a bit frustrating and I think I let that get the better of me last year."

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Watts continued: "You get drilled for 16, 17 years about chasing half-backs and shutting plays down and then all of a sudden the rules change. Sometimes it takes quite a while to kick in.

"Timing is massive. I'm a big lad and not the most agile so when people are stepping you either side it's about getting that timing right.

"Sometimes I'm just a bit overeager and heavy-footed. We get trained to get up in their faces and then you've got a little outside back with quick feet. You can't let him run past you so you put out your hand, catch him around the face and it's a two-game ban.

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"It was taking a bit of the love of the game out of it for me. When you're coming into games, you're just not there mentally. I was guilty of feeling fed up going into games last year.

"It does grind you down sometimes. I got into a mindset where I just thought, 'Here we go again'.

"This year I've come in with a fresh mindset and who knows, it might be my last year.

"I'm happy to be back training. There were some days when I just didn't want to come in last year. I was fed up with myself."

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Watts explained how head coach Lee Radford has put measures in place to help Watts improve his recent disciplinary record.

He added: "He's tried to implement some stuff in my training. I'm coming up against players like Cain Robb and Milky (Jacob Miller). They've got quick feet and changes of angles and I'm having to tackle them underneath the ball. It's just a matter of getting down there but when you're 6ft 4in it's a long way down.

"I've reined the flying out of the line stuff right back and tried sticking to the system and concentrating more on my initial contact and the floor stuff.

"I'm feeling a lot stronger in my tackles now, whereas before I was getting bounced off a little bit. I'm absorbing them more and slowing them down."

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Watts is available for selection as Castleford face Keighley Cougars in Jake Webster’s testimonial game on Sunday, but boss Radford has already gone on record to say he will be picking a mostly young side for his club’s early pre-season matches.