Wales v Scotland: Owen Watkin out to put World Cup heartbreak behind him in big Six Nations opener

Owen Watkin

By Reuel Roach

Owen Watkin returns to the Wales starting line-up today, admitting World Cup exclusion left him “heartbroken”, but determined to make up for it.

The Ospreys centre, 27, will be donning the red of Wales in the Six Nations opener against Scotland at Principality Stadium for the first time since November 2022 – the dismal 13-12 loss to Georgia.

“It’s been a while since I last put on the red jersey, so I’m just really looking forward to getting out on the weekend,” said Watkin.

“I’ve put the work in, and I deserve to be back here.

“I’ve missed it massively. Playing with your club is great but it’s different playing international rugby, you miss the buzz you get. so I’m hugely looking forward to the weekend.

“Obviously being left out of the World Cup training squad was really heartbreaking.”

Watkin outlined what has changed for him since the World Cup axe fell.

“I think that setbacks like that can motivate you even more,” he said.

“I didn’t let it get the better of me, I knew I would put more work in. It’s been important to stay injury free and just create momentum.

Owen Watkin scores for Ospreys

“I feel confident, I feel like my game is going well and I’m being a bit braver with the things I’m trying.

“I’m not going through the motions… and I’m feeling good at the minute.”

When asked about the team’s preparations for their opener against Scotland, Watkin said: “Training’s been tough, but the boys have put in a huge amount of effort and we’re really well prepared for the weekend.

“It’s a young squad, but it’s a squad that’s really enthusiastic and is looking forward to playing.”

Watkin was questioned about teammates, Cameron Winnett (uncapped) and Sam Costelow (8 caps), and the part they may play.

“They’ve obviously been playing really well for their clubs, and Cam getting his debut is great for him,” said Watkin.

“He’s been on fire for Cardiff. I think we’ve got a mixture of experience and youth in the back-line which is really exciting for us.”

Scotland have not won in Cardiff for 22 years, but beat Wales comfortably at Murrayfield last year.

Watkin is aware of the type of game the 2024 version is going to be.

He added: “We know they are a great team, and they can turn it on when it’s their day.

“We know it’s going to be a huge physical battle, it’s going to be high intensity, but we need to focus on ourselves and control what we can control.”

Wales: 15. Cameron Winnett, 14. Josh Adams, 13. Owen Watkin, 12. Nick Tompkins 11. Rio Dyer, 10. Sam Costelow 9. Gareth Davies; 1. Corey Domachowski, 2. Ryan Elias, 3. Leon Brown, 4. Adam Beard, 5. Dafydd Jenkins (c), 6. James Botham, 7. Tommy Reffell, 8. Aaron Wainwright

Replacements: 16. Elliot Dee, 17. Kemsley Mathias, 18. Keiron Assiratti, 19. Teddy Williams, 20. Alex Mann, 21. Tomos Williams, 22. Ioan Lloyd 23. Mason Grady

Scotland: 15. Kyle Rowe, 14. Kyle Steyn, 13. Huw Jones, 12. Sione Tuipulotu, 11. Duhan van der Merwe, 10. Finn Russell (c), 9. Ben White, 1. Pierre Schoeman, 2. George Turner, 3. Zander Fagerson, 4. Richie Gray, 5. Scott Cummings, 6. Luke Crosbie, 7. Jamie Ritchie, 8. Matt Fagerson.

Replacements: 16. Ewan Ashman, 17. Alec Hepburn, 18. Elliot Millar-Mills, 19. Sam Skinner, 20. Jack Dempsey, 21. George Horne, 22. Ben Healy, 23. Cameron Redpath.