ANTHONY Watson believes Bath can salvage their season by lifting the Amlin Challenge Cup after they were squeezed out of the Aviva Premiership play-offs.
Having occupied the top four for most of the season, Bath slipped to fifth on the final day of the season after a narrow 19-16 defeat to Harlequins, who moved into fourth.
It was a bitter blow for Mike Ford’s side, who have engendered fresh optimism at the Rec this term, thanks to the emergence of eye-catching youngsters such as Ollie Devoto, Kyle Eastmond and Jonathan Joseph – not to mention Watson and George Ford.
Indeed, both Watson and Ford junior were nominated for The Land Rover Discovery of the Season award, presented to the best player aged 23 years or under, at the Aviva Premiership Rugby Awards on Thursday.
Saracens No.8 Billy Vunipola ended up collecting the gong but Watson believes just being nominated is testament to how Bath have performed this season, urging his side to end on a high when they face Northampton in Cardiff on Friday.
“It’s a massive honour to be nominated along with some quality players like Billy Vunipola, George Ford and Jamie Elliott – they’ve all been outstanding this season,” he said.
“I think it’s a reflection of the team as a whole, the forwards have allowed myself and George to play and given us good enough ball to be able to do that.
“[Missing out on the top four] was a bitter pill to swallow, it was a tough game, credit to Quins, they performed pretty well on the day but that being said it could have gone either way on the day, if George makes the drop goal at the end then it’s a draw and we would have gone through.
“Looking to the Amlin now, there’s a buzz around the side, it’s a cup final and hopefully we can reward them with some silverware. I’m massively excited to be honest, being able to experience it at 20 years of age is going to put me in good stead for the future, I think it’s going to be a great experience.”
Watson played in all but one of Bath’s Premiership matches and has played a key role in their Amlin Challenge Cup campaign – not bad for someone who turned 20 in February.
Having been part of the England training squad for the Six Nations, Watson will be hoping to win his first senior international camp this summer in New Zealand.
But any thoughts of a summer tour have been put out of his mind with silverware on the line this weekend.
“I just came to Bath with the mindset to try and improve as a player, I didn’t really think about playing week in and week out,” he added.
“I just came with the mindset that the coaches are best in the Premiership, the facilities are excellent, there are no excuses for me not to fulfill my potential at Bath and I’m just trying to get better every time I take to the training field.
“At the start the season I just wanted to get better as a player and improve and improve and improve and I just want to try and keep doing that.
“I’ve got a cup final to deal with first and hopefully we’ll win it and then my thoughts will turn to New Zealand and hopefully I’ll be going.”
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