Hamish Watson thinks he’s a better player for his British Lions experience – he just doesn’t know exactly why yet.
The dynamic Scotland openside enjoyed his summer with the Lions even if he only saw a few minutes of a test match. He’s certain that it’s improved him, but thinks it’s going to be a subconscious thing.
‘It’s not like you learn anything new’
Hamish Watson v The Lions 🦁
• 80 Minutes ⏰
• 16 Tackles (most) 👊
• 0 Missed tackles ✖️
• 7 Passes ✋
• 7 Carries 🏃♂️
• 3 Defenders beaten 🕺
• 1 Clean break 💨
• 24 Running metres 🔥
• 1 Try 🏉
• Man of the match 🏅 #LionsRugby #LIOvBIL pic.twitter.com/REablEhex3
— Ultimate Rugby (@ultimaterugby) July 3, 2021
“You become a better player without knowing it,” he said as preparations continued for Sunday’s Autumn Series meeting with Australia. “It’s not like when you go away on a Lions tour you learn anything new when you are there, meaning skill-set wise and stuff.
“It’s just being around those sort of players, being in that sort of atmosphere and environment for eight weeks. Subconsciously you are picking stuff up.
“It helps that we have eight Scottish boys coming into camp now (who had that experience). Hopefully we will bring things back to the group that will help them out.
“The Scottish lads got a lot of confidence from that tour. We came back realising how good our group is as well.
“We’re out there with the so-called best players in the UK and Ireland. There will also be confidence in our camp that there were a lot of our boys who could have been out there, but didn’t go. We are pretty confident with this squad moving forward.”
Personally, he will remember the tour fondly, he added.
“I have tried to move on from then – it was three months ago,” he said.
“I really enjoyed my time out there. Game-time wise in the tests I would have liked to have played more. But I think in the last few years I did all I could to get selected, performance wise and training wise, so I have no regrets.
“Different coaches like different things, one different thing sometimes, and that is the way professional sport goes. I look back at that tour and think I had a really good time.”
Close encounters with the Wallabies
In terms of the Wallabies it’s not exactly the same squad as when Scotland romped home by 53-24 four years ago, the last time the two teams met. But there’s some residual confidence from that game remaining, says Watson.
“A few of the boys in camp were part of a fairly decent record the last few times we played them,” he said. “It gives us a little bit of confidence.
“It was a tight one back in 2016. We lost it in the last five minutes, and there was the game we won in Sydney.
“They’ve been been good, closely fought contests. We are looking forward to another tough battle against an in-form Australian team.”
Five consecutive wins – including two over the Springboks – certainly suggests Dave Rennie has the Wallabies playing again after a recent dry spell, agrees Hamish.
“I think we’ve got to contain them, they’ve got a lot of attacking threat,” he said. “Our defence over recent years, definitely in the last year, has also been very good. We’re going to give them a slightly tougher ride than they’ve had recently.
“Our attack’s good but we know we’ve got to defend first and make it difficult for them to score first. Then hopefully we can show what we can do.
“But I think we have to concentrate on our D first because we know how much of a threat they have out there.”