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Watson's confusion after call from Townsend over Scotland axing

By Josh Raisey
(Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Scotland’s back row reserves currently run deeper than they have in a long time, to such an extent that nailed-on starters just a couple of seasons ago are now fighting to play.

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Despite captaining Scotland at the World Cup last year, Jamie Ritchie found himself completely out of the matchday squad against France in round two of the Guinness Six Nations, while British & Irish Lion and Six Nations player of the tournament in 2021 Hamish Watson failed to make head coach Gregor Townsend’s entire squad for the Championship.

While the Edinburgh flanker Watson has been drafted into the squad since initially missing out in January, he is yet to play.

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The 32-year-old recently opened up on how his conversation with Townsend unfolded before being dropped. Joining Jim Hamilton on The Big Jim Show, the 59-cap Scotland international explained how he took a moment to “take in that international feel” when coming off against Romania at the World Cup, knowing it could be his last Scotland appearance.

Though Watson believes he still has plenty to give to his country, that match against Romania did turn out to be his last cap for now, and he shed light on his call with Townsend a few weeks later.

“I had a brief conversation with Gregor, when he rang me up to say I wasn’t in the squad,” he said.

“He’ll give you a few work-ons, which was a conversation between me and Gregor so I’m not going to go into it. One or two of them you’d be like ‘yeah, fair enough,’ then some you think they’re just pulling out of anywhere just to fill the time.

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“I think the one thing that all rugby players realise is that you’d rather just have a completely honest conversation with your coach and for them to be really honest with you.

“As a player, you can always get better, you can always have work-ons, so I don’t disagree with being given work-ons because everyone can always be way better.”

Watson went on to explain how these work-ons can negatively affect a player as they strive to work their way back into the coach’s reckoning.

“Also, there’s a certain thing that has got you to where you are as well,” he added.

“If you go into games really trying to force stuff – you say you’ve been given a few work-ons, maybe you need to jackal harder or get on the ball more – then you find yourself in games thinking ‘I need to jackal or get on the ball’.

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“You start forcing things, giving away penalties, trying to get on the ball and knocking the ball on, whatever it may be, and I think you can actually screw yourself over mentally when you’re constantly thinking about the stuff you need to get better at.”

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