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'I'd pent-up frustration, a lot I probably didn't realise': Marcus Watson's emotional Wasps return

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images)

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Poised to start a second successive Wasps game in a row for the first time since last September, winger Marcus Watson is delighted that the pent-up emotion over the winter has at last dissipated and made him a much happier person to be around.


A groin issue scuppered his hopes of involvement in the closing stages of Wasps’ run to the October final of the delayed 2019/20 Gallagher Premiership season and no sooner had he eventually overcome that frustration did he tear his achillesfollowing an early January comeback versus Bath.

That left Watson kicking his heels five months before was finally chosen to start on the winger last Saturday at Brentford where an extraordinary game unfolded with Wasps battling back from a 10-33 interval deficit to dramatically win 39-36 to keep alive their Heineken Champions Cup qualification hopes heading into the final league of this season at home to Leicester this Saturday.

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For Watson, it was a redemptive Wasps experience in keeping with the ups and downs of his career. He butchered a try chance early in the second half when he ignored the support of Josh Bassett, who would surely have scored, but he made amends a few minutes later by scoring himself to add fuel to the furnace that was an incredible Wasps comeback.

Back in the dressing room post-game, his fiancee was the first person he called and what she said summed up the way he had been feeling all year without being able to play. “The first person I spoke to was my fiancee,” said Watson when RugbyPass asked what he immediately did post-game.

“She has been there the whole time and one thing she said which was actually kind of funny, she said you have been a lot nicer this week. That is not me saying you are not nice but you seem a lot nicer and it is just one of those subconscious things that for me where I had a bit of pent-up frustration, to be honest, a lot that I probably didn’t even realise, so it is nice to be back playing for sure.”


Set to turn 30 later this month, the older brother of England and Lions pick Anthony added that the penny finally dropped during his latest lengthy layoff about how best to look after himself and take the necessary measures that will ensure he will be back to his best following the upcoming pre-season ahead of the 2021/22 campaign.

That season will be a fifth at Wasps for Watson following two years at Newcastle, a couple more at London Irish and a stint with the sevens game that culminated in him winning silver with Team GB at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Watson enjoyed himself last weekend in London, making a team-high 81 metres in possession, beating three defenders and having two clean breaks, but he doesn’t think he is yet fully the player he was before his latest run of rotten injuries.

“The answer no, I’m not 100 per cent in terms of achilles recovery but the difference between now and before is: the way I describe it to the physios is I was probably playing not able to do exactly what I would like to do in terms of being able to sprint 100 per cent or change direction which for me is probably the most important thing, sidestepping and stuff like that and I wasn’t able to do exactly what I want to do.

“In all honesty, there is not too much point in me being out there as someone who relies on speed and change of direction. If I can’t do those things there’s not too much point in me being out there. Now I am not 100 per cent at all but I can do those things that I like to do in terms of changing direction and sprinting but I also think that is just going to improve hopefully over some time and I can get to that 100 per cent pretty soon.


“My main focus this whole time has been trying to make sure I get back to playing a couple of games to get myself up for an improved Marcus next year,” he continued, reflecting on his rehab. “Off the field, I have started a degree. I have really been focused a lot on discipline. Everyone talks about motivation as an important thing but for me, discipline is more important.

“With motivation, a lot of the time you look outside yourself but for me with discipline, it’s something you are in complete control of. It’s impossible for people to want to be in the gym every single day doing all those extras but I have seen it as like people taking their vitamins every day.

“I have got a little routine now that I have got locked in on stuff that I do in the morning which I have started calling my vitamins, I need to do that in order to make my body work in the right way and that is a daily process. I might come in a bit sore but I know that is good for me.

“I have got to be very disciplined with that, even more disciplined with my achilles stuff because to be honest in the past I have gone from probably not doing enough on my achilles to doing way too much stuff on my achilles and then making it worse whereas now I have spoken to so many people I know the way that it should work in terms of doing the correct amount instead of doing too much and thinking more is better if that makes sense.”


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