Leeds Rhinos have warned NRL clubs off a move for 22-year-old England starlet Kallum Watkins.

The talented centre is regarded as one of the hottest properties in the Super League, and Australian outfit Cronulla Sharks are reported to be keen on the player.

However, Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington insists the Manchester-born player won’t be leaving Headingley anytime soon, and has urged interested parties not to make a move.

"There will inevitably be a great deal of press speculation surrounding Super League elite players and the NRL," he told the Yorkshire Evening Post.

"But most has no foundation and I can confirm Leeds Rhinos will not be selling any of our players to NRL clubs. There has been no contact from Cronulla with either the club or with Kallum, despite misleading statements in the trade press. If there was to be an approach, the answer would be an emphatic no.

"I have spoken to Kallum about the speculation and he has also confirmed that all his ambitions are with Leeds Rhinos and England rugby league.”

Watkins opened the scoring for the Rhinos on Friday night with a try against Castleford in the fourth round of the Challenge Cup, going over the whitewash early in a 28-12 victory against the Tigers.

And, his growing influence is certainly not in question, with the England international expected to feature against Hull KR in next Sunday’s Super League clash at New Craven Park.

Cronulla, meanwhile, have made a slow start to the NRL season, winning two and losing four of their opening six fixtures.

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