Saturday 24 August 2019

Watson's first chance to impress new England coach Jones

Newly confirmed England coach Eddie Jones during his first press conference at Twickenham
Newly confirmed England coach Eddie Jones during his first press conference at Twickenham
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

In his opening statement as England's new head coach, Eddie Jones spoke about the exciting level of talent in the country and how the future is very much bright.

After the disaster of the World Cup, Jones' appointment coupled with the young talents England have at their disposal has lifted the sombre mood.

Few players emerged with any shred of creditability after England's failure but Anthony Watson typifies the quality that Jones touched upon.

The Bath winger scored three tries at the tournament and although he has been shifted to full-back for this afternoon's clash against Leinster, he poses a major threat to the visitors' hopes of keeping their European voyage alive. Watson made his international debut last November and is at the fulcrum of a young Bath side who have been purring for a couple of seasons.

Although Bath's Champions Cup campaign got off to a false start last weekend when their game against Toulon was postponed, Watson insists that coming back into the club environment has helped eased the pain of England's exit.

"It was obviously hugely disappointing getting knocked out so early and even more so because it was our home World Cup," the 21-year-old concedes.

"It was extremely tough to take but I think guys just have to move on now and take the positive lessons from it. If we get another chance in an England shirt in future, we have to make up for it.

"From a mental perspective, it was massively disappointing but we know that we have a big task on our hands with Bath now so that's where my focus is now."

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Under Mike Ford, Bath have been playing an impressive brand of rugby without having won the silverware to back it up but there is a growing sense that they aren't far away.

"It's an exciting place to be right now. We've got a really good blend of experienced forwards and young backs," Watson says.

"The likes of George (Ford) and Kyle (Eastmond) tend to call the shots in the back-line which is great. They've both got old heads on young shoulders and I think that really helps us.

"I'm coming into training every day with a smile on my face. Mike (Ford) has been great for my development and I know that I'm still learning all the time."

Last season's quarter-final defeat at the hands of today's opponents still irks Watson and his team-mates but he is adamant that they were the creators of their own downfall at the Aviva Stadium last April.

"Losing the quarter-final last season was massively disappointing especially considering they kicked all the points as a result of our poor discipline," Watson recalls.

"We know that it has to be better this time around especially because they've got world-class goal-kickers like Ian Madigan and Johnny Sexton.

"It's massively important for us to start with a win. We made it tough for ourselves last year so we know what it's like to have our backs against the wall.

"That's something we're looking to avoid this year and we know that if we do get that critical win, it will make it tough for Leinster going forward."

Watson may have a new England coach to impress but the reward of beating Leinster this afternoon is enough not to deter his focus.

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