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'He runs a million miles an hour and makes 20 million tackles'

By Liam Heagney

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Lions matchday skipper Stuart Hogg has saluted the man of the match performance by fellow Scot Hamish Watson in Saturday’s 56-14 win over the Sigma Lions, but the flanker himself turned down the invitation to say that his impressive effort was one in the eye for critics who said he was too small to be picked by Warren Gatland. 

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Watson was the top tackler for the Lions in their first match on South African soil, putting in 16. He also made 24 metres from seven carries, made seven passes, beat three defenders and scored a seventh-minute try in an energetic 80-minute effort that was a continuation of the form that resulted in him being voted the 2021 Guinness Six Nations player of the championship. 

“He will brilliant,” purred Hogg when asked at the post-game media briefing about the impact of Watson. “It’s like someone winds him up before the game and just lets him go. He goes out there and runs a million miles an hour and makes about 20 million tackles. Like the rest of the forward pack, that is what we want. 

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“We want these boys working really hard, showing what it means to wear that jersey and really putting their bodies on the line because that is all we can ask for. If you do your job to the best of your ability and the man next to him does the exact same, we give ourselves every opportunity of winning.”

Earlier, Watson opted not to have a pop at his critics during an interview with Sky Sports. “No, not really,” he said when quizzed if his man of the match display had proven a point to his doubters. “Everyone is entitled to an opinion so it is what it is I guess. I just really enjoyed tonight. It was great to play with players I have never players with before. I don’t think it is ever going to be perfect first game because there are loads of different combinations, but it was a good result overall. 

“It’s a lot of boys’ first run out for the Lions and lots of boys playing with people they have never played with so it was never going to be perfect. It was tough at times, we got tested at times. It was at altitude, the lungs were going. My lungs were certainly going at bits in that game and I was glad to get a bit of a break. It puts a game in the legs as well and we have got four more warm-ups now until the Test matches.”  

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Normally a player who scores four tries walks away with the man of the match award, but Josh Adams was more than happy to see Watson rewarded. “To be fair to Hamish I thought he was outstanding. You could stand and applaud the tries but Hamish does all the unseen work that nobody would be able to stand and applaud. I thought his defence was outstanding so thoroughly deserved, but I am happy to get four of course.”

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'He runs a million miles an hour and makes 20 million tackles'

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