Scottish Daily Mail
Well worth the long wait
Watson on edge after being last Lion to be announced
Some were happy to sit with bated breath amongst their excited team-mates, some headed home for the privacy of their family homes, while others chose to hide in their car as the news came through.
For Hamish Watson, the agony of waiting for Warren Gatland’s Lions squad to be read out in alphabetical order was exacerbated by the familiar din of his kids wreaking havoc in his living room.
The edinburgh and Scotland talisman admitted he was still coming to terms at being picked and revealed he had to bribe his two children with crisps to stop them screaming and running around so he could hear the names of the 37-man squad being unveiled on television.
‘Richard Cockerill gave us the option of whether or not we wanted to watch the Lions selection at home or in the car park or with the team at edinburgh, so I just rushed home and watched it with my wife and two young girls,’ he said.
‘my kids were running around crying and screaming, so we gave them crisps and stuff so we could actually hear the TV.
‘It was horrible being at the end because my name began with ‘W’ so I was trying to work out how many back rowers they had already called. In the end they took seven, so I just remember worrying that they had named so many back rowers before me. It was quite nerve-wracking having to wait till the very end.
‘When my name was read out my missus was crying, I think she was more excited than me. It was a weird feeling, I wasn’t jumping up and down or anything. It was just shock in a way, because although you think you may have a chance of something, you know how good the competition was, especially in the back row, and until I saw my name and picture on the screen did I accept I was in. It’s the pinnacle of rugby for anyone in the northern hemisphere, in the UK and Ireland.
‘Going on Lions tours is the top of the game for all of us, so it’s an amazing thing to achieve.’ Watson said he expects the Scottish contingent to make their presence felt in South Africa not just with the eight players selected but also through Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend and defence coach Steve Tandy, both of whom are part of Gatland’s backroom staff. ‘To have nearly as many Scots as Lions this year as were picked in 1989 is amazing,’ said the Scotland international. ‘When the names were getting read out to see so many Scottish names in there was fantastic and it’s good that there are eight Scottish boys. ‘We’re training with those boys every day in the Scotland camp, so we know how each other play and how we can bring out the best of each other. It’s great to have so many players there. We all get on really well.
‘It’s also good for us and we can also look forward to having Gregor there and Steve Tandy, too. It’s also really exciting to get to know some of the other players and build relationships there.
‘Some of these rivalries that we’ve had over the last few years, we know we’ve got to bond together and become a team as well. It’s a very exciting prospect.’
The Springboks are renowned for their physicality and there have been questions asked by critics from south of the border that Watson (left) — who is 6ft 1in tall (185cm) and weight 102kg — lacks the presence to get the better of them in the tackle in the crucial back-row area. That despite the fact Watson had a superb Six Nations and was named Player of the Tournament in a public vote.
‘I don’t really mind what they say as it’s one of those things and everyone is entitled to their own opinion,’ added Watson. ‘everyone has got one, some you may agree with, some you don’t. If you believe the good stuff, you have got to believe the bad stuff. Quite a lot of the boys try not to read into it too much. obviously, though, it’s hard to avoid when we all have social media nowadays.
‘It’s something I have had to deal with my whole career, so it’s nothing new to me, people saying I am small and stuff.’
Watson said he had no long-term injury fears over a groin strain that forced him out of the Glasgow Warriors against edinburgh derby at Scotstoun last night.
‘It’s not so much a weekend off as I am rehabbing my groin at the moment, because obviously we had quite a tough Six Nations with those three back-to-back games at the end, and playing Racing 92 in europe after that,’ he explained.
‘I am just trying to get that right at the minute and this was not a plan to give me a weekend off for the Lions announcement or anything like that.’