After over a year on the sidelines, Anthony Watson made his long-awaited return to action in the Blue, Black and White last Friday.
The Bath Rugby flyer sustained an Achilles injury whilst on Six Nations duty in February last year, and whilst he was delighted to make his return, the outcome wasn’t quite what he was looking for.
“There were mixed emotions,” Watson explained. “Obviously I was delighted to be back playing with the lads and trying to assist where I could. My main focus was to get a win and push the team up the table and I wasn’t able to do that. Whilst I was happy to make my first appearance in 13 months, I would have rather won the game.
“I was pretty happy personally in terms of being mentally prepared for anything that was thrown at me. I was ready – I had a long time to think about that comeback game, what it was going to feel like and what I was going to do.”
Any long-term injury requires a great deal of mental strength and the rehabilitation process is something which has seen him come through the other side as a stronger all-round individual.
“I had quite a few methods (in his rehabilitation), but most of it has to come from within,” Watson adds. “You’ve got to get yourself in the right mind space to continue to do things that might be perceived as boring for extended periods of time. You can get assistance with that and I definitely did. My dad helped me change my mind-set and so did Kylie Sinckler at Quins. They said certain things, which triggered something in my brain to think ‘we’ve got to keep going and going.’
“I definitely feel stronger from it in terms of just been able to do something monotonous for so long and stay at it. Coming in every day and giving off good vibes and energy is infectious and that’s really important. That’s what I’ve learnt in the process and I definitely think it’s made me a better player and person.”
Attention now turns to Sunday, as Bath Rugby welcome Wasps to the Rec for the final home game of the season. After last week’s defeat at the AJ Bell Stadium, the full-back is targeting a positive reaction, with just one-point separating the two teams in the table.
“We’ll be fired up, there’s no two ways about it. We’re going to be well prepared from 1 to 23 and we’re going to make sure that we put in a performance that’s worthy of being on show at the Rec.
“We know what type of team Wasps are and the players they’ve got. They’ve been slightly inconsistent this year, pretty similar to us I guess. It’s going to come down to preparation and mind-set, so those will be two things that we’ll be concentrating on from now until Sunday. I’ve got full belief in the staff in terms of their preparation, they’ve been world-class all year. It’s time for us boys to step up, take it all in and show that preparation and mind-set combined.”
The 25 year-old is now fast approaching his 100 game milestone and after not playing at the Rec since January last year, he is understandably excited to be pulling on the Blue, Black and White in front of his home crowd.
“Whenever I visualised my comeback game, it was always at the Rec. I guess there will be an added bit of impetus to go out there and perform in front of the people, who have supported me throughout this whole injury and at a ground I love playing at.
“The supporters at the Rec have been consistent throughout the year during some tough times. It’s definitely on us to show them through our actions how much it means to us and how they all play a role in our performance. It’s going to be huge for us.”