Hamish Watson stakes claim for Scotland start against England after successful return to Edinburgh

Hamish Watson played the full match for Edinburgh against Sharks.Hamish Watson played the full match for Edinburgh against Sharks.
Hamish Watson played the full match for Edinburgh against Sharks.
Hamish Watson is firmly in contention to play for Scotland in Saturday’s Calcutta Cup match after making an impressive comeback from injury in Edinburgh’s 19-22 loss to the Sharks at the weekend.

The openside flanker’s availability for the start of the Six Nations had been in doubt since November, when he was concussed while playing against New Zealand, but he contributed enough over the 80 minutes at the DAM Health Stadium to suggest he could once more be a major asset to the national team.

Edinburgh coach Mike Blair had planned to use Watson more sparingly on his first appearance since he was concussed in November’s Test against the All Blacks, but an injury to his fellow-back-rower Bill Mata meant he stayed on until the end of the narrow defeat. “He carried a lot of ball,” Blair said. “It was great to see him putting himself about for a full 80, having not played in such a long time. He battled his way through it.”

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Edinburgh almost fought their way to a dramatic win over the South African side, and in stoppage time kicked two penalties to touch in search of a winning try rather than go for goal and settle for the draw. But the defence held firm on both occasions, and as a result the Sharks are now just ahead of Blair’s team in eighth place in the URC table.

In addition to Watson’s return, the match marked the second debut of front-row forward Murray McCallum. The Scotland cap’s first spell with Edinburgh ended in 2021, and he returned earlier this month as a free agent after his previous club Worcester Warriors went into administration.

McCallum admitted his return had been a bittersweet occasion given the result. “You never want to lose,” he said. “You play the game to win. Even when you lose graciously with all that effort, it's still shite. You never learn to lose. But the fact that I was able to come back to this club and help out, and I want to help them compete at the highest level – I'm just delighted to be here.”