HAMISH Watson has admitted he thought long and hard about the prospect of moving elsewhere before eventually signing a new three-year contract to stay with Edinburgh. The Scotland openside was linked with Leicester Tigers – where he was in the academy before moving to Scotland – along with other clubs in England and France.
Speaking after his new deal was announced, the 29-year-old said he had contemplated leaving more seriously than on previous occasions when his contract was up, but seemed relieved to have been able to decide to stay at a club which, he is convinced, will continue to make progress over the coming years.
“This was probably the stage of my career that I was considering it more than other years,” he said. “In other years, you pay the agent, he does a job, and he looks and sees what’s out there, but this year I was maybe considering a move and in the end I’m so happy we could get it done and stay in Edinburgh.
“The swinging factor for me in the end was that I love playing for this club. I’ve shown Edinburgh really good loyalty over the years, and they’ve repaid their faith. It’s up to me over the next three years to prove myself again and hopefully get to the business end of competitions and start winning stuff. I’m really happy we’ve got a deal done and I’m looking forward to continuing this journey.”
Players who stay for a long time with a single club are sometimes suspected of lacking ambition, but Watson believes that Edinburgh are capable of matching his own aspirations, and is confident that the team’s emerging young players are good enough to maintain the improvement made under Richard Cockerill. “Winning some silverware – that’s my ambition as an Edinburgh player,” he continued.
“Every rugby player wants to win something in their career and I want to do it with the club I’ve been with since I was a teenager. I believe in this group of players, I believe we can do something, and I still feel like we’ve got some unfinished business here.
“We’re starting to get to the business end of competitions regularly, which is certainly something we didn’t do towards the start of my time at Edinburgh. We’re getting to quarter-finals, we’re getting to semi-finals, and that’s what it’s all about and what the fans want to see. The more we can do that, like we have done under Cockers for the last three seasons, that’s what builds confidence.
“There are loads of young players coming through – lots of young props, good back three, positions all over the park. The back row specifically has got a lot of depth – Rory Darge, Ben Muncaster, Connor Boyle – and if you look at the slightly older ones we’ve got great depth in the back row. It’s really promising for the club.”
When his new contract ends, Watson will be 32 – young enough to be still at the height of his powers, and therefore to remain attractive to potential new employers. But whether he might want to attract them is another matter. Asked if he felt comfortable knowing that he might never make a big move away from Edinburgh, he insisted that he expected to be playing well enough at the expiry of this contract to have other clubs interested in signing him, but added that he might well be minded to rebuff such interest in any case.
“I’m not sure, who knows? We don’t know. You see players playing really well to a really late age, so I’m confident that at 32 I’ll still be playing good rugby and still be attractive to other clubs.
“If that’s the case then I can revisit it and if I’m still playing really good rugby who is to say I won’t be at Edinburgh another couple of years? It’s a bit of a time away, but my aim is to be as consistent as I have been over the last ten seasons for Edinburgh, and let’s see where we are after three years.”