SCRUM Web Editor Gary Heatly talks to Hamish Watson ahead of the big clash in round four of the 6 Nations:
Hamish Watson has had to punch above his weight throughout his rugby career – so the trip to Twickenham holds no fears for the Scotland back-row.
Watson, who grew up in England and was part of the Leicester Tigers Academy in his youth, stands at just a little over 6 feet tall.
Many have questioned over the years in his rise through the under-20 and Scotland Sevens ranks to the full international squad whether he is big enough for the modern game, but that is not a theory he subscribes to.
In the coming days the 25-year-old Edinburgh Rugby openside will be preparing for the 6 Nations clash with England on Saturday.
“You come up against little obstacles on the way, but you just work on your strengths and it’s harder for bigger guys to get down and compete with me jackling for the ball. Having a low centre of gravity for carrying also works for me because it’s harder to stop me,” he said.
“You’ve just got to work with the tools you’ve got and be good at what you’re good at, if that makes sense.
“In terms of the England back-row, well they are different to Wales and will pose different challenges.
“They’ve got quite a big back-row, but when Barcs [skipper John Barclay] plays at six we have a good person over ball there as well. He was obviously a seven and can now play across the whole back-row, so all our back-rows are pretty good jacklers and can slow ball down, so that’s something we will concentrate on at Twickenham.”
Point to prove
Watson felt he had a point to prove to Vern Cotter when he came off the bench to star against Wales last time out
He had started the Scots’ last five Test matches before being dropped to the bench for the Welsh clash last weekend.
However, with his club team mate John Hardie, who had been handed the starting number seven jersey to the surprise of many north of the border, hobbling off with a leg injury after 24 minutes Watson did not have to wait long to enter the fray.
“Obviously Hards was doing well until he got injured, but when you’ve started the first two and then come off the bench you want to prove – like everybody on the bench – that you should be starting. I just try to come on and make a difference,” Watson remarked.
And make a difference he certainly did, making six carries in attack and six tackles and two turnovers in defence in less than an hour on the pitch.
After the match Alu Wyn Jones, the Wales skipper, said that Watson’s introduction had “changed the game and disrupted Wales” as Scotland won the Six Nations clash 29-13.
He said: “It was a great team performance. The boys played really well. We hadn’t beaten Wales in 10 years and we proved everyone wrong that we could back up performances, at least following the Ireland win at home – we have to keep building now.”
1983 and all that
Scotland have not won at Twickenham since 1983 and have not defeated England anywhere since 2008, but Watson believes all of the pressure is on the hosts.
“With England being on such a long run of victories their fans will be expecting them to continue that against us on Saturday, but we are feeling pretty good ourselves after the Ireland and Wales wins.
“England may feel a bit of expectation, but really we just have to concentrate on what we can do.
“The good thing for us to know in our heads is that we still have not put in a full 80 minute performance in the event, but we definitely have it in there.
“We are looking forward to testing ourselves against a good team.”
Italian woe to main man
Being one of the main man heading into such a big Calcutta Cup match is a far cry from how Watson, who has eight caps, felt after his debut off the bench against Italy at BT Murrayfield against Italy.
He was yellow carded and Scotland lost the Six Nations match 22-19.
“It was really tough to take and I had such emotions that day. I obviously loved it and you never forget your first cap and it was a proud moment for me and my family, but then you’re yellow carded and you lose at home to Italy for the first time in a while and that was pretty gutting,” he recounts.
“But bar the yellow card at the end – and you could have picked one of a few people at the bottom of that maul – I thought I did alright and I am just glad a couple of years later I am still able to experience international rugby.
“Vern gave me my debut cap and I didn’t play for a while after that, until the pre-season World Cup friendly, and it’s hard to take that setback, but every player you speak to will have had setbacks in their career and Vern was very up front and honest with me, gave me things to work on, things he wasn’t happy with in my game, so you’ve just got to try and go away and work on those and I’ve been working harder in Edinburgh training, and I think I’ve got better at them and now I’m getting picked.
“It’s really positive and exciting at the moment. John Hardie had a great World Cup and has been unlucky with injuries of late, but I’ve just tried to take the opportunity.
“Although I grew up down south I just take England as any other match.
“I’ve never been to watch a game at Twickenham. It’s not like ‘oh, God, I want to get them!’
“I’ve supported Scotland pretty much all my life, certainly since I was eight-years-old and it will be a big game, but big just because we haven’t beaten them for ages and not because I lived there for a long time growing up.
“The whole squad are in good place and we know the things we have to work on this week to give us a chance of getting an away win.”
Thanks to David Gibson/FOTOSPORT for the main photo of Hamish Watson
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