Anthony Watson, England’s forgotten man, has credited his dad, Duncan, for helping him back into England’s World Cup picture after his injury hell.
The Lions wing hopes to face Wales at Twickenham on Sunday and force his way into Eddie Jones’s squad. He has not played for his country since suffering a serious achilles injury in March last year and the 25-year-old spoke about the toughest times in his drawn-out rehabilitation process.
‘Over the 13 months, I’d say there were two or three days where I was like, “This is a nightmare”,’ he said. ‘I texted my dad saying I was struggling and he just replied, “Mate, you’ve got to get on with it or you’ll never play rugby again”. You can’t hit home more than that. That was a real kick up the backside.’
Watson knows that reputation alone can’t help him reclaim his England place, adding: ‘I don’t think you can rely on credit in the bank. You’ve got to earn it. If I play on the weekend, it’s about putting my best foot forward.’
England are ready to include uncapped Kiwi scrum-half Willi Heinz in their squad for Japan on Monday — a day after he makes his belated Test debut at the age of 32.
Gloucester’s imported captain is due to play against Wales on Sunday, and he has made such a positive impression on Jones and the other coaches that they are ready to take him to Japan as an understudy to Ben Youngs.
Heinz moved to the West Country from his native Christchurch in 2015 — a year after playing against England for the Crusaders.