England debutant Anthony Watson ready to face South Africa legend
England debutant Anthony Watson is ready to face South Africa super star Bryan Habana
He grew up watching Bryan Habana, now Anthony Watson insists he is now ready to take the former IRB Player of the Year on at his own game on Saturday.
This is shaping up to be a week to remember for Watson as, after making his England debut against the world champion All Blacks, the 20-year-old has been handed his first Test start with South Africa coming to Twickenham this weekend.
The clash with the Springboks will see Watson line up opposite one of his idols with Habana, who won the World Cup with South Africa in 2007, donning the green No.11 jersey.
It might seem like a daunting task on your first Test start to try and shackle a man who has 104 international caps and 56 tries, but Watson isn’t running scared.
In fact it is quite the opposite with Watson itching to show Habana what he is made of, adamant that his maiden start has been months in the making after travelling with England to New Zealand back in June.
“I watched Habana growing up and he is unbelievably fast and he has 104 caps which speaks for itself really, doesn’t it? It is going to be a good challenge but one I have prepared well for,” Watson said.
“I feel like I am ready to challenge him. A lot of it is to do with the coaches at Bath. They have installed massive confidence in me and Mike Ford keeps telling me to just go out there and enjoy myself at the weekend and I think that’s what has really helped me.
“Coming into this setup a year ago and having been here from the Under-16s upwards that whole inclusion makes it easier because you know a lot of the boys.
“But, that being said, when I came in last year I didn’t actually know that many so getting that relationship built up and just being able to ask questions and being comfortable in the environment has allowed me to get settled really.
“Just being in the system for the last year has helped me ease into it and that tour helped, being away from home for three weeks and constantly being in that environment because there was no escape at all.
“So constantly being in that environment and being immersed into it and I was forced to learn quickly and I think that did help me massively.”
It isn’t just his involvement in training that Watson is grateful for ahead of his first start, the speedster delighted to get off the bench against New Zealand last weekend.
It was only for the final 20 minutes but Watson believes that will make all the difference come Saturday.
“It is a massive honour to get the opportunity to start for England,” he added. “I think it was good I got the opportunity to get a taste for it after coming off the bench at the weekend and I think that has put me in better stead now to go out there and show what I can do at the weekend.
“The atmosphere was unbelievable and I underestimated that to be fair, the fans were absolutely ridiculous.
“That was a new experience for me but one I massively enjoyed so bring on this weekend.”
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