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Owen Watkins Insists World Cup Rejection Has Only Fuelled His Fire For Wales

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By David Williams

Owen Watkin will complete an impressive recovery from World Cup reject to Six Nations starter when Wales tackle Scotland on Saturday.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland selected seven centres as part of an expanded training squad in May last year for the World Cup – but Watkin was not among them.

George North, Mason Grady, Nick Tompkins, Joe Roberts, Johnny Williams, Max Llewellyn and Keiran Williams were Gatland’s preferred options, with 27-year-old Watkin left in the wilderness.

“Being left out of the training squad was really heartbreaking and massively disappointing for me,” he said.

“But I think setbacks like that can motivate you even more. I didn’t let it get the better of me.

“I knew I had to put more work in, stay injury-free and just create that momentum. I feel confident at the minute, I feel like my game is going well.

“I am probably being a bit braver with things I am trying, I am probably not just going through the motions.

“I am enjoying my rugby at the Ospreys, we are scoring some nice tries and winning some really tough games. I want to bring that momentum from there and try and implement it with Wales.”

While Watkin has won 36 caps and is the sixth-most experienced player in Wales’ starting line-up this weekend, it is his first Test appearance since an ignominious home defeat against Georgia during the 2022 autumn Tests.

“Obviously, you don’t want to go out on a loss,” Watkin added. “I did have that fear of ‘what if it was my last game for Wales’.

“I think I’ve put the work in and I do deserve to be back and I am focusing on the Scotland game. The Georgia game is behind me – I don’t even think about that now.”

Watkin will forge Wales’ midfield partnership with Nick Tompkins, offering an experienced combination as Wales look to make it 12 games unbeaten in Cardiff against Scotland.

The last time Scotland triumphed in the Welsh capital, current head coach Gregor Townsend was fly-half and it required injury-time penalties from Brendan Laney and Duncan Hodge to secure a 27-22 win.

Wales, though, have got it all to do this time around, underlined by a line-up that contains their lowest cap total for a Six Nations game since facing Italy five years ago.

Watkin added: “We know that they (Scotland) are a great team, they can turn it on when they are on their day and we know it is going to be a huge physical battle out there.

“It is going to be high intensity but like I said, we just need to focus on ourselves and control what we can control.

“We want to play rugby, but you have obviously got to play in the right areas.

“You can’t go playing from anywhere, against a team like Scotland as well, (because) they will punish you.

“It’s just (being) sensible where you play from, but when we get the opportunities we are going to look to play.”

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