The Scottish Mail on Sunday
Watson puts his case to face All Blacks
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.