LUCTONIANS hero Josh Watkins thanked the club’s fans after he was named O’Neills Regional Leagues’ Player of the Year at The Rugby Paper awards.

Former England Sevens star Watkins racked up an enormous 33 tries to help guide his side to promotion from the Midlands Premier, going over twice in their 31-17 play-off win over Blaydon in April.

Having previously played for the side periodically in between his England and Worcester Warriors duties, Watkins was eager to highlight the side’s supporters and team morale as he capped off a terrific second full season at Mortimer Park.

He said: “It’s nice to get recognition for all the hard work you put into the season. It’s been a team effort and we really picked the momentum up and showed our class at the end of the campaign.

“The culture here is actually a lot better than some of the professional clubs. Some of the players have been here since they were six or seven which has created a really good environment.

“Our fanbase is pretty special for an amateur club – we had over 1,500 supporters for the last game of the season which would be tough for any team in this league to top.

“There were a lot of votes for this award from our fans – credit to them, it’s always nice to have that support.”

Watkins explained the club’s unique support could play a part in Luctonians’ success next season as they prepare for life back in the National League Two, but is aware of the difficulties they will face.

He said: “It does really bring us forward as a team and we do seem to gel with the fans behind us and helping us.

“We’ll see where we are at the start of the season and assess things. We know it’s going to be difficult as the teams are a lot stronger.

“I do think we’ll definitely be staying up - we’ve got a lot of good players at the club and good core values that everyone understands.”

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