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Watson: 'Mings handled abuse well'

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'I spoke to Tyrone Mings... he handled it [the racial abuse situation] very well'

Anthony Watson has congratulated his footballer friend Tyrone Mings for not losing his focus when racially abused on his England debut on Monday.

Watson is in Japan preparing for Saturday’s World Cup quarter-final battle with Australia, but he has kept an eye on how the England football team were doing and was appalled at the treatment meted out to Mings and co during their Euro 2020 qualifier away to Bulgaria.

The Aston Villa player tweeted in the aftermath of the unsavoury racist abuse: “I’ll always remember my debut as a moment where our country stood firm, stood tall and stood proud in the fight against discrimination… Oh, and the football wasn’t too bad either.”

Watching from Japan, Watson praised Mings’ attitude not to let the abuse from the terraces distract him from putting in a performance to be proud of.  “I spoke to him Tuesday and wanted to congratulate him on his debut, not in an ideal situation but I thought he handled it very well.

“To experience that in your first cap is not exactly an ideal situation but he took it all in his stride and as a mate, I am very happy for him and no doubt he will get many more caps.”

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Switching to the rugby quarter-final, Watson admitted he has been doing plenty of homework on Australian threat Marika Koroibete. 

Watson started on the right wing in the pool wins over Tonga and Argentina and is now set to confront Koroibete, a try-scorer against Fiji and Georgia in two of his three pool starts at the finals. 

“We are working on our adaptability and have been since we have been out here and whatever is thrown at us we will be able to adapt.

”Marika Koroibete (AUS) is a good player and I have been watching him for some time. He is a strong ball carrier with good footwork and we will have to watch him closely. I don’t believe Australia are more competitive than us just because of where they come from and both teams want to win.”

Despite being hampered by injury in recent years, Watson, a 2017 Lions Test series player, has played 39 times for England, not that many caps behind fellow winger Jonny May who is set to win his 50th cap versus the Australians. 

“How would you encapsulate him in one word? Fast. He has been a great servant for England and is a special player. He can be so destructive. He works so hard on his game and is very professional always trying to get better and is a great role model for any player coming through.”

WATCH: What rugby fans coming to Oita for the quarter-finals can expect at night

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'I spoke to Tyrone Mings... he handled it [the racial abuse situation] very well'