Scottish nation mobilises after Hamish Watson's Lions slight
Hell hath no fury like a Scottish rugby fan thinking a Lions shoo-in is going to miss the cut.
Hamish Watson - best player in the Six Nations but not good enough for the Lions Tour? Tell us more.
On one level, Stephen Jones has a point in his latest column for The Sunday Times. South Africa are going to fill their matchday squad with all manner of monsters.
On several other levels, Hamish Watson merits his place in a wider British & Irish Lions squad and should get the chance to show what he's made of in South Africa.
"I wouldn’t take Watson," Jones has stated. "I think [Lions head coach Warren] Gatland might. In fact, for various reasons he probably will. But I still would not."
"The Lions will meet a massive scrummaging front row, which will be replaced after half-time by a massive scrummaging front row," he adds. "They will face the two biggest locks the game has ever seen and a back row of crushing, front-on power. The idea that the Boks are going to allow a dainty Lions flanker to nip in and spoil the party is fanciful."
Watson may not be the biggest back-row in the game right now - far from it - but he is a very effective ball-carrier and a nuisance on the deck.
"Going back a couple of years," Scotland captain Stuart Hogg told House of Rugby, "I think Wales missed something like 15 tackles in the whole Six Nations and, believe it or not, 10 of them were on Hamish, on this one run. Honestly, I've never seen anything like it. He bounced 10 boys on the one run."
The Welsh scribe says the size reason is the same one that would see him leave Justin Tipuric and Josh Navidi at home, were he tasked with selecting a touring squad. As we have previously noted, he would not bring CJ Stander on the tour either. He wants big back-rows, so it is 'thanks but no thanks' to that trio and Hamish Watson.
Needless to say, once Scottish rugby supporters copped their eyes on the latest Jones column, they blew several gaskets and took to social media to start ringing bells and lighting signal fires across the land.
To start, one did not need to look far. In that column's comments section, John Southcott pointed out that is about the same weight and stature as flankers such as David Pocock, Ardie Savea, Sam Underhill, Sam Cane and Michael Hooper.
That point was vociferously made across the social media platforms, with others chiming in with their thoughts:
Monday morning observation...the only team to beat South Africa in 2019 were NZ who had Ardie Savea (102kg) and Sam Cane (103kg) on the flanks - maybe lets focus on the team that actually beat the Boks pic.twitter.com/g4VTyOJsYC
— Thistle Scottish Rugby Podcast (@thistlerugbypod) April 12, 2021
It’s not about weight. It’s about power. Hamish Watson is ridiculously powerful and committed. To suggest he’s too lightweight to be effective against SA shows a real lack of understanding of the modern game. I think Stephen Jones’ journalism is what is really lightweight
— Gareth White (@GJBlanc) April 11, 2021
This was an interesting read, in that it made me swear a lot. Good thing he can't block me on The Times or I wouldn't know he's still talking hefty amounts of pish.
Someone call a nurse, and advise Tom Curry to get a restraining order.https://t.co/pzsdkSUskK pic.twitter.com/Lrk9QmuEM3
— Iain Hay (@iainhay82) April 11, 2021
“Lightweight Siya Kolisi/ Richie McCaw/ Michael Hooper is no match for the Springboks” pic.twitter.com/uyphQcDU3c
— Cammy Black - Scottish Rugby Podcast (@CammyBlack) April 11, 2021
Jones did mention Underhill in his piece but not that the Bath and England flanker is 'a completely different animal'. For the record, Underhill is the same height as Watson but listed as three kgs heavier.
When it comes to the crunch, expect Watson to travel this summer. With Gregor Townsend and Steve Tendy set to be named on the Lions coaching staff, this set-up could have a much heavier Scottish influence than the past five tours.