NRL 2020: Kallum Watkins quits Gold Coast Titans after father contracts COVID-19

Gold Coast Titans centre Kallum Watkins has been granted an immediate release from his  contract in order to return to England after his father contracted COVID-19. 

The England international joined the Titans last June but was limited to eight appearances after knee reconstruction surgery.

His manager Chris Orr told the Courier Mail that Watkins wanted to "prove a point" in Australia, but "family comes first".

The Titans said they accepted a request from Watkins for himself and his family to return to the UK immediately, ending a contract which was due to run until 2021.

"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 the 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."

Along with his success with England, he also played more than 250 games for the Leeds Rhinos in the English Super League, scoring in excess of 100 tries.

Watkins' contract with the Titans was due to expire in 2021. 

"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."

Watkins' wife Sophie posted a message on her Instagram page to thank the Titans for their understanding.