Scotland forward Rob Harley is full of admiration for Manchester-born Hamish Watson, after making his mark on the international stage last month.
After two Scotland appearances off the bench in 2015, November saw Watson start all three November tests in the back row.
And the 25-year-old certainly didn’t look out of place as he helped Scotland to a narrow one-point loss to Australia before following that up with victories over Argentina and Georgia.
An injury to John Hardie certainly played its part, but Watson more than repayed Vern Cotter for the faith the head coach had shown in him.
And fellow Scotland back rower Harley doesn’t expect Watson to slow down any time soon.
“There is no direct rivalry, but he mostly plays openside, but you have competition in training and he has not played that much with the team, but he has been in with the squad a lot and I have had the chance to train with him and see up close how good he is,” Harley said.
“How good he is over the ball, he has good feet, he is another player who is very quick, he is dangerous in attack and he is a good defender.
“Hamish was waiting for a chance to show what he could do in a Scotland jersey and he took it with both hands.
“Both he and John Hardie are of a very high standard and it just gives them options across all positions and Hamish, John, John Barclay and Chris Fusaro is back to health and playing well.
“It is possible that there is greater depth in the squad than there ever has been, it is a challenge for places, but it is also exciting to have that talent.”
Watson didn’t feature in the 2016 Six Nations as it was a similar story for Scotland – winning just twice to finish fourth.
However, that November victory over Argentina as well as the performance against Australia the week before has given Harley confidence that 2017 can be an entirely different story with Watson in the ranks.
“We have seen that in the performances out on the field that we are building something,” he added.
“Similar to Glasgow, we have put together good results in the autumn and we are looking to kick on in the Six Nations – that’s similar to Europe for Glasgow, we want to push on in that and achieve something that we haven’t done.
“I think the performances in the autumn show that we are capable of playing and winning against any team at this level.
“It is exciting that we get the chance to play three home games in this Six Nations and that is a huge chance for us to do well in this contest. It will be about being together as a squad, maximising our chances and putting in good performances across all the games.”
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