SCOTLAND flanker Hamish Watson has been named 2021 Six Nations Player of the Championship after winning a public vote.
The 29-year-old came out top of a poll from a shortlist which also included Ireland flanker Tadhg Beirne, French scrum-half Antoine Dupont, Welsh No8 Taulupe Faletau, Irish centre Robbie Henshaw and Welsh winger Louis Rees-Zammit, after attracting 35 percent of the 125,000 votes cast.
Watson missed only 14 minutes over the course of the championship, scoring one try, assisting another, carrying 67 times for 321 metres, and making 55 tackles with a 100 percent success rate.
He is the second Scot to claim the award since its inception in 2004, joining Stuart Hogg (2016 and 2017) on the Roll of Honour. He is the 15th player to be named Player of the Championship.
“I’m very surprised, obviously loads of top players were up for the award. I think when you do win something like that, it’s full credit to the team I’m in as well and to all of the guys who have won it previously,” said Watson.
“It shows what good teams you’re playing for. The Scotland team we’re all playing in at the moment is a great team and we really believe we can achieve things in the next few years.
“We think we’re heading in the right direction and full credit to the whole team, because without them, boys can’t win these personal accolades.”
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Richard Cockerill, Watson’s coach at club level, said he wasn’t surprised at the accolade, and added that he believes Watson has done everything possible to make Warren Gatland‘s Lions squad this summer.
“He has been a standout for Scotland,” said Cockerill. “He has been consistently good, probably Scotland’s most consistent and best player all the way through. When I saw he was nominated it didn’t come as a huge surprise that he won it because he has been very good in every single game he has played.
“I’m delighted for him and hopefully that will put him in a really strong position for the Lions tour. He cannot do any more than what he has done to be in the selection picture. No one would be surprised if he got selected, but there are some very good players in other countries.
“Let’s keep fingers crossed that there is an opportunity for him there.”