Hamish Watson confident Scotland can challenge for Autumn Nations Cup

By Gavin McCafferty, PA
·4-min read

Scotland flanker Hamish Watson insists they are definite contenders for the Autumn Nations Cup.

Gregor Townsend’s side go into the new tournament on the back of four consecutive wins, including their first hat-trick of Guinness Six Nations triumphs for 24 years.

Scotland open their campaign in Italy on Saturday before hosting France and Fiji with the group winners taking on the top side in the section containing England, Ireland, Wales and Georgia for the new piece of silverware.

When asked whether Scotland should be seen as contenders, Watson said: “Definitely. Obviously each game is going to be tough and pose different challenges. We never have easy games against Italy, we know how tough they are sometimes so we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.

“But we have quite a nice group and we have a good track record against France at Murrayfield over the last four or five years.

“We know how good they are as well but I think we can put ourselves in a very good position to top the group and let’s see what happens.”

Scotland secured their first win in Wales since 2002 when they completed their Six Nations campaign. And Watson is determined to ensure that can be seen as a watershed moment in the development of Townsend’s team.

“Winning away from home, just like winning at home, is a habit,” the Edinburgh forward said.

Watson (right) puts in a tackle in Wales
Watson (right) puts in a tackle in Wales (David Davies/PA)

“I know that in my time with Scotland it’s been tough, we have always struggled away from home, bar a few big wins in Australia, Wales the other weekend, and Italy.

“All it takes is one or two results like that to start believing you can go to these places and win regularly.

“We know how good we are at Murrayfield and if we can get those away wins then we are going to be a real force to be reckoned with.”

Scotland are looking to claim five consecutive victories for the first time since 2011.

Watson said: “It’s about trying to build on this now and not take anything for granted. We have a tough game away from home at the weekend so we have just got to keep doing what we are doing.

“But it is very positive in camp, everyone is buzzing, and it’s about trying to keep that going. You have got to take each game as it comes and not get too far ahead of ourselves but we have won four on the bounce now and we haven’t had many opportunities in the past to go on a really good winning streak.

“I think we have a really good chance to do that because we have a tough game away from home and then we have two home games where we are pretty good usually at BT Murrayfield.

“Hopefully we can put ourselves in a good position to top the group but we have got to beat Italy first obviously.”

The 29-year-old knows that things can turn quickly though, pointing to the position they found themselves in earlier this year after following their first-round exit at the World Cup with two narrow opening Six Nations defeats.

“This is a great squad of boys, we are all very close,” Watson said. “With the coaching staff we have got we are in a very good position to make things happen.

“But at the same time in sport things can change very quickly. All it takes is one bad result for you all to start getting a bit of stick again.

“Look where we were at after the Ireland and England games. Some of the media were on our case a bit and saying this and that and saying the coaching staff wasn’t right. It just shows that sport is a fickle old thing sometimes.

“We just need to keep going, keep performing well. We know how good we are as a group and what we are capable of but we have to keep that at bay sometimes and prove it with results.”