By Conor Duffy
TAKE A look at the statistics for last season’s HSBC Sevens World Series and you can see why Marcus Watson was nominated for England’s top sevens accolade. Having finished sixth top try-scorer in the world with 27 tries, this young man has established himself as a key member of the England Sevens set-up. And at the ripe old age of 22, things can only get better.
The sevens flyer is under no illusion that hard work and self-improvement is key to success in any squad. The attitude that both himself and his tight-knit team are displaying as pre-season begins is a testament to their desire to succeed and achieve, especially following the resignation of long-time coach Ben Ryan.
“It’s all a bit up in the air right now with Ben’s resignation, but we’re just focusing as a team on getting fit and ready,” says Watson. “We’ve got a lot of hard work to complete and our captain, Rob Vickerman, has been very influential at this time. But with other leaders emerging as well, it is good to have a player-led group where everyone is close and working hard towards a unified goal. We’re looking to show our professionalism, and that’s a concept we’ve carried out heavily this pre-season.”
It is that professionalism that resonates around Watson’s character. Every good pro looks to improve on what they have achieved, and Watson looks towards the coming season with a hunger and desire to better himself. “As the season progresses I’m aiming to push myself into the top five try-scorers – that’s a huge on my to-do list. I worked so well with Dan Norton last season and I’m looking to get closer to his try count. With England, I’m looking to retain my starting place, push forward and help England to finish ranked in the top three leading up to the Commonwealth Games.
“Our aspirations will be to try to win the Commonwealth title, so hopefully good performances in the World Series will give us momentum for that.”
With the Olympics holding new prospects for sevens rugby, players and coaching staff alike have participation at the back of their minds. For a player of Watson’s calibre, and an experienced coach such as Ryan, excitement at the prospect of joining Team GB is unsurprising. “It’s definitely in the back of my mind. The chance of playing in the Olympics is massive. It would be the pinnacle of any player’s career so I’m just going to work as hard as I can to try and be involved in it.
“I know that Ben loves the Olympics, so I think he’ll be working towards a role within Team GB as well.”
Watson has always been humble about his, and his Junior World-Cup winning brother Anthony’s, success and he would relish the opportunity to play with his sibling in either 15s or sevens. “I’d love to play 15s again. I’m actually aiming to play a few games this season. It’d be great to play with my brother. If there was a possibility of joining him at Bath, it’d be great to be playing with him but also with my mate Jonathan Joseph, who I spent a lot of time with in the London Irish Academy.”
As a professional, driven athlete with realistic and attainable goals, there is no reason why this young player cannot achieve success in the World Series, Commonwealth Games and even the Olympics.