Telford Tigers are delighted to announce the return of Jack Watkins. The 30 year old, who is the brother of Head Coach Tom Watkins returns for his sixth year with the club. Watkins was part of the double winning team in 2020 and the league championship winning team in 2022. Jack has played mainly as a forward for the club but with the team suffering with injury problems last season, he stepped into a defensive role and will return to the team as a defensemen this season.
We caught up with Jack to discuss his return:
Welcome back. This will be your sixth year at the club. Was there any doubt you would return?
“I had complete confidence in returning when Tom called this summer. I was excited about returning, but I realise now that I should have switched positions a long time ago. Playing in defence is a whole different game and I prefer it much more than as a forward.”
How hard was it to transition from forward to defence? Is it a different mindset?
“Last season was my first time playing in defence since 2015. It happened midway through a game when I was initially playing at centre. I was asked to switch to defence due to an injury. In that moment, there was no time to think, only to act and rely on my instincts. The following game, I started in defence, and that’s when I had time to think and visualise specific defensive scenarios.”
Was it tough last season when the team were going through that bad run?
“Going through a challenging period like that during the season is always tough. Our mindset as a team was focused on winning and we managed to pull through. It was a combination of the belief that Tom instilled in us, the hard work the boys put in every game, and the excellent recruitment. We were fortunate to bring in key players during our difficult period, and they added the strength and depth we needed. Weekly video analysis and constant self assessment helped us identify areas for improvement, both individually and as a team, which we then implemented in training and then during games.”
What’s it like playing for your brother as Head Coach?
“Honestly, It’s great to play for my big brother! But when it comes to hockey, there’s no difference between playing for him and any other coach. He treats me just like the other guys on the team. Over the years, I feel he has significantly contributed to my game with his knowledge and ability to effectively communicate it. Now, as I transition to being a defensemen, I’m going to tap into that shiny head of his for that expertise even more!”
You also get to play with your nephew Sam. How much have you enjoyed seeming him progress?
“I consider myself fortunate to be able to call Sam a teammate and play alongside him. Moreover, he’s genuinely a nice person, and it has been an honour to witness his growth as a player. I always knew he had talent, having watched him play as a junior. His overall in-game awareness is next level, and as he continues to grow stronger each season, he will only get better and better, he’s one to watch!”
After so much recent success at the club, do you think Tigers will be back contesting for honours again?
“Our goal every season is definitely to achieve the treble. We are more than capable of it and have come close in the past. Why not this year!”
Do you have a message for the fans ahead of the new season?
“I hope to see all of you back in Telford very soon. We want you to be as loud as you were during the playoffs. The whole rink was behind us and it makes a difference to the players on the ice.”
Telford Tigers Head Coach and General Manager Tom Watkins commented “What a revelation Jack was when we moved him to play on the back end, impressing us all behind the bench and his team mates. He fitted straight into our top 4 D like a seasoned vet, very calm, composed, read the play very well, defensively solid, moved the puck well under pressure or protected it with his body. He helped us with our transition consistently making a solid first pass and you could see him grow in confidence every shift. He is a big kid, as strong as an ox so doesn’t lose many physical battles and on the offensive blue line he slid the line well and got the puck through more often than not. I’ve not seen a player take to moving position as well as he did in all the years I’ve been coaching. He’s a real asset to us as a team and we certainly missed him during our playoff run when he was injured.“
Jack’s own and loan shirts are available to order now for £150 each (Home and Away). Please see the Tigers’ Online Shop for details.
In the 2023/24 season, Tigers are again offering individual player sponsorship at £500. The package will include a personalised ‘SPECIAL’ exclusive third jersey with a company name or family name patch, announcements on match nights, a small advert or logo in the match night programmes and a signed player photo. The jersey will be worn for cup games and play-off games and will not be available as a replica.
If you are interested or require more information on the individual player sponsorships, contact firstname.lastname@example.org