Scotland coach on Lions star's World Cup absence so far
There was a probably a time in the last four years where flanker Hamish Watson was the first name on Gregor Townsend’s team sheet for Scotland. After all, the Edinburgh man was the 2021 Player of the Six Nations and also represented the British & Irish Lions later that year. But the picture is slightly different now.
The 31-year-old has been beset by injuries over the past 18 months, which has seen him slip down the pecking order in blue. Despite this, Scotland forwards coach John Dalziel said this week that the flanker “couldn’t train any better than he has,” as he has a fit complement of flankers all vying for a starting berth.
Though Rory Darge seems to be the custodian of the Scotland No7 jersey currently, Dalziel said the coaching team know exactly what they will get from Watson should he be picked. With Scotland’s easiest game of the pool stage coming this weekend against Romania, that might well be his opportunity.
“Hamish is one of our most experienced players, a fantastic guy around the squad,” Dalziel said.
“It has been a great fight between him and Darge the last couple of campaigns for the seven jersey, this is the first time for a while we have had them both fit. They are vying for it.
“Hamish probably couldn’t train any better than he has. We know exactly what he does and if called upon he’ll come in. I’m sure he will be desperate to put in another big performance if he does.”
A window of opportunity might have been given to Watson to start the next match when Jamie Ritchie left the field with a head injury in Nice against Tonga following Afusipa Taumoepeau’s controversial yellow card tackle. However, the forwards coach has downplayed the severity of the injury.
“Obviously pretty nasty in terms of the head collision but in terms of post-game he has been okay,” he said.
“There has not been any dramatic extra symptoms with it. We will take full care with anything to do with the head so he will be managed along with protocols. But he is up and about, his family are here today as well so he has a day off and get to chill as well.”
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