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Hamish Watson has spoken about Lions selection hopes following his award-winning Six Nations campaign

By Liam Heagney

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Scotland back row Hamish Watson, the Guinness Six Nations player of the tournament, has admitted there can no guarantee that he will tour with the Lions later this year because he might not be their style of player to take on South Africa. The 29-year-old has won 41 caps since his 2015 debut and has been enjoying a rich vein of form in 2021.

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However, Watson suggested that momentum isn’t everything when it comes to Lions selection. To illustrate his point, the Scotland favourite claimed that Manu Tuilagi, the England midfielder, was likely to be selected at centre on reputation despite currently being out of the game injured. 

Watson has been to the fore in the recent Scotland resurgence, helping his country to away wins in Wales, England and France in the past six months, and those results on the road have enhanced the credentials of numerous Scottish players ahead of the May 6 announcement of the Lions squad by Warren Gatland. 

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Wales out-half and Lions selection hopeful Dan Biggar guests on RugbyPass All Access
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Wales out-half and Lions selection hopeful Dan Biggar guests on RugbyPass All Access

The forward reckoned it would ultimately come down to one man’s opinion – Gatland’s – but he was hopeful that the presence of Scotland boss Gregor Townsend on the Lions coaching ticket would wield more of an influence on the selection of this squad to tour South Africa compared to 2017 in New Zealand when the Scots got just two original picks. 

Speaking about his Lions selection chances during an appearance on the latest episode of The Rugby Pod, Watson said: “Scotland had a great Six Nations. We said at the start of the tournament as well that it was always the thing that Scotland couldn’t win away games, they don’t really win much away from home, but we have dealt pretty well with that. 

“We beat Wales away in 2020 and then France and England, so that has helped Scotland players out. You’d like to think there would be more than the two players on it in 2017. Quite a few boys put their hand up and a few boys are on form. For me personally, there is a bit of momentum but at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter about momentum because I’m a strong believer that someone like Manu will probably go because he is a great player and he has not played since gosh knows when.

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“I don’t know the last time he played but I would have him on the tour. Momentum is a big thing and form is a big thing but I don’t know, it’s up to one man I guess and the rest of his coaches. It would be amazing to go on the Lions tour but at the same account I feel like I played quite well in the Six Nations and if it doesn’t happen you are not his style of player. It would be tough to take but that is what it is I suppose. 

“I don’t know how much sway Gregor would have. It’s important. In 2017, Gregor may have got asked for a role out there as well but it was his first year in Scotland and just two guys went on tour, so it helps to have a Scotland coach in there who knows all the boys really well. He can try and fight the corner for the Scotland boys that he thinks are good enough.”  

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Hamish Watson has spoken about Lions selection hopes following his award-winning Six Nations campaign

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