Bath Rugby’s Anthony Watson will make his British & Irish Lions debut tomorrow and he admits that pulling on the famous red jersey against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians will be a huge honour.
Watson will be joined by Club teammates Jonathan Joseph and Taulupe Faletau in the starting line-up for the first match of the tour and excited by the opportunity that lies ahead.
The 23-year-old, who will start on the right wing said: “It’s the pinnacle for every young rugby player to get the opportunity to wear the red jersey. From my perspective it’s about putting my right foot in front of my left foot and play as best as possible come Saturday.
“It’s every rugby player's dream to get this point. I had always wanted to play for the Lions, so to get the opportunity is huge.”
With Joseph at outside centre and Faletau at number eight, there are some familiar faces for Watson to call upon, which could prove to be crucial, as the Lions look to get their campaign off to a flying start.
“I’ve said it before how cool it is to play with him (Jonathan Joseph) at club level, with England and now to have the opportunity for the Lions is awesome. In terms of our relationship, it’s pretty healthy and defending is key to building relationships with your centres. With Toby, the way he operates with Bath out wide, we’ve got a really good relationship there. From both perspectives, it’s great to have those guys involved this weekend.”
Watson will join Scottish duo Tommy Seymour and Stuart Hogg in an exciting back three combination and believes that Hogg, who won the 2017 RBS 6 Nations Player of the Championship could prove to one of the shining lights tomorrow.
“He (Stuart Hogg) was my roomie for the first two weeks, so it was cool to get to know him like that. You only have to look at how he performed in the 6 Nations to see what a class act he is. I’ve no doubt we’ll see some of that x factor on Saturday.”
Whilst the focus for Watson is firmly on his Lions bow, there’s no doubting that the bigger picture is to head back to the UK with a test series triumph over the All Blacks.
“We’ve done a lot of work over the last two weeks on ourselves, so going into Saturday it will be no different. We’ll try to put together our best possible performance and I’m sure it will be a great spectacle.
“Everyone across the 41 players here is going to look to perform to the best of their ability whenever they’re given a shot. Ultimately we want to win and that’s what we’ve come out here to do, so we’ll do whatever’s best for the team.”
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