By Sarah Mockford, Rugby World Features Editor
THIS WEEKEND’S Heroes Rugby Challenge will see many legends of the sport take to the Twickenham turf, but it’s also worth looking out for a rising star in the English game.
Anthony Watson is just 17 but he’s been picked to line up alongside Will Greenwood, Serge Betsen and Malcolm O’Kelly in the Northern Hemisphere side – and big things are expected of the teenager.
A wing/full-back in the London Irish Academy, he made his debut for the Exiles against Newcastle in September to become the youngest player to represent the club in the Premiership.
He’s played for England at U16 and U18 level – impressing for the latter aged 16 as they finished second at this year’s FIRA/AER Championship. He also won gold with the England Sevens team at the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Isle of Man this summer, his blistering pace perfect for the abbreviated game.
It’s these achievements that saw him receive a Special Recognition Award from the Jaguar Academy of Sport and he has also been shortlisted for the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year award.
He may have had football trials for Chelsea but rugby is the sport he’s chosen to pursue and he aims to follow older brother Marcus into the senior England Sevens team and compete at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Full caps for England and the Lions are also on the agenda for Watson, who cites contrasting fly-halves Jonny Wilkinson and Quade Cooper as his idols.
Before all that, however, is the chance to impress at Twickenham with some of the game’s greats.