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Anthony Watson: British and Irish Lions must start well and win air battle against Springboks |  Rugby Union News


British and Irish Lions wing Anthony Watson spoke to media on Tuesday ahead of Saturday’s first test against the Springboks; England and Bath man address importance of the kicking game, starting well against South Africa, what it’s like to face full-back Springbok and defend Cheslin Kolbe

Last update: 07/20/21 5:19 PM

Anthony Watson spoke to the media on Tuesday, saying the Lions have to start well and win the air battle if they are to beat South Africa

Anthony Watson’s memory of the 2019 World Cup final provided two key insights for the British and Irish Lions’ playoffs opener against South Africa: start fast and win the air battle.

Watson was present in England’s crushing loss to the Springboks in Japan and is expected to play a leading role in Saturday’s clash at Cape Town Stadium.

Twenty months ago, Eddie Jones ‘men started slow and never recovered, with Watson also seeing the world champions’ barrage in the air – led by fullbacks Faf de Klerk and Handre Pollard – as the determining factor. in their fall.

“The importance of the kicking game was huge in that World Cup final. We finished second behind them. They definitely dominated us in this area,” said the Bath winger.

Anthony Watson: British and Irish Lions must start well and win air battle against Springboks |  Rugby Union News

Watson has previously faced Willie le Roux and Cheslin Kolbe on tour, facing South Africa ‘A’

“They built up a lot of momentum and got a great field position in this region which gave them the lead they needed.

“And as with South Africa’s ‘A’ game last week as well as the World Cup final, the start was huge.

“We didn’t put ourselves in a good position in either of those two games so we found ourselves trying to get our way through the game which is much more difficult against a team like South Africa.

“It’s important to get a good start, 100% against these guys. And it’s all on a smaller scale if you watch the whole series – how important it is to start well, not just in the game but in the game. series.”

Anthony Watson: British and Irish Lions must start well and win air battle against Springboks |  Rugby Union News

Anthony Watson: British and Irish Lions must start well and win air battle against Springboks |  Rugby Union News 2:06
Siya Kolisi will captain the Springboks against the British and Irish Lions in Saturday’s first test, ending doubts he would not be available due to Covid-19

Siya Kolisi will captain the Springboks against the British and Irish Lions in Saturday’s first test, ending doubts he would not be available due to Covid-19

The Springboks line up the most physical pack in the game, with Siya Kolisi at the helm after her recovery from the coronavirus, but Watson insists they are just as formidable behind the fray.

“They have more subtlety in the back. They have individual players who have very complete skills – guys like Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Damian de Allende and Handre Pollard,” Watson said.

“They can be physical, but they also have good footwork and skills. It’s about being prepared.

“If you do your due diligence in terms of homework, you know what they like to do in certain positions and you know what to expect in certain areas of the field. That puts you in a good position next Saturday.”

Anthony Watson: British and Irish Lions must start well and win air battle against Springboks |  Rugby Union News

In addition to the physique across the squad, Watson says there’s more to South Africa’s back

Players will learn on Tuesday whether they’ve been chosen to start the first test, leaving three full days for the starting XV to fine-tune the preparations.

Full-back Liam Williams completed his return-to-play protocols for a concussion, putting him in contention for a third-place finish, most likely alongside Watson and Josh Adams.

Anthony Watson: British and Irish Lions must start well and win air battle against Springboks |  Rugby Union News

Anthony Watson: British and Irish Lions must start well and win air battle against Springboks |  Rugby Union News 1:16
Lions defense coach Steve Tandy said selecting the squad for the first test against South Africa in Cape Town on Saturday was “one of the toughest things” of his career as a coach

Lions defense coach Steve Tandy said selecting the squad for the first test against South Africa in Cape Town on Saturday was “one of the toughest things” of his career as a coach

One of their jobs in Cape Town will be to stop Kolbe, the South African superstar wing with electric footwork and breakneck pace.

“Whoever comes up against him will just have to make sure he does his homework. Everyone is aware of his skills and how much he can influence a game,” Watson said.

“But you can also flip him over and try to see where you can also exhibit him one-on-one as well. It’s not just about him moving forward.

“He also has to defend whoever is against him. This is not a one-sided battle.”

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