The Scottish Mail on Sunday

Wat­son puts his case to face All Blacks

- By Sam Peters

In the mod­ern era, Tom Smith and Jeremy David­son in 1997, Rob Hen­der­son in 2001 and Tom Croft in 2009 were nowhere near most peo­ple’s Test XVs be­fore the se­ries be­gan, only to play star­ring roles.

Yes­ter­day, when Stu­art Hogg was led from the field shaken and dazed by the freak head in­jury he suf­fered when Conor Mur­ray in­ad­ver­tently lifted his el­bow into his team­mate’s face, the Lions full-back op­tions were thin.

With Wales vet­eran Leigh Half­penny not on the bench against the Cru­saders, Lions coach War­ren Gat­land de­ployed An­thony Wat­son there.

An hour later and the Cru­saders had wit­nessed first-hand Wat­son’s elec­tric pace, hot-step­ping foot­work and calm de­fence which could very eas­ily have cat­a­pulted him into Test con­tention in the No 15 shirt.

‘Wat­son was ex­tremely im­pres­sive,’ said five-times for­mer Lions coach Sir Ian McGeechan.

‘He wor­ried Cru­saders with his pace and run­ning lines.’

Hogg’s head in­jury will be closely mon­i­tored.

With Ju­lian Savea, Is­rael Dagg and Nehe Mil­nerSkud­der ex­pected to take up the All Blacks wing and full-back spots the Lions will face a mas­sive at­tack­ing threat in the Tests and with Hogg strug­gling for fit­ness, Wat­son could be set to make a sur­prise im­pact.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK