England winger Anthony Watson is our latest guest on the My Sporting Mind podcast

Anthony Watson speaks with My Sporting Mind podcast - Sporting Life's latest partner


Watch the latest episode of My Sporting Mind, as England rugby wing Anthony Watson talks World Cup heartbreak, emulating his dad, and more.

Click play to watch the full episode

My Sporting Mind: England rugby union star Anthony Watson

Highlights from episode three

Anthony Watson is the guest for episode three of the second series of My Sporting Mind.

The England wing discusses his lengthy injury absence, coping with failure at the World Cup, and the shift in perspective he managed through the help of a sports psychologist.

Listen to My Sporting Mind via the below links or scroll down for some of the highlights.


On being out injured

"My Achilles injury was one of the biggest turning factors in terms of my mindset, taking things piece by piece. With an Achilles injury you've got to jump through hoops to get to where you want to get to.

"When I hurt my foot, when I was just out of school, you've got this false sense of security, that you're like superman. 'They say I'll be out for six months, I'll be back playing in four'. The first three months I couldn't do anything, then after that I just rushed all the rehab to the point that I was back training... with a limp."

"With the Achilles, especially the fact it went twice, I had to be very focused on making sure that everything was right in the short-term before I could worry about the long-term. Without the little pieces, day in, day out, you can't get to where you want to get to.

"The Achilles injury affected my whole outset to rugby and life in general - it was a bit of a wake-up call."

Changing perspective

"It was the worst, best experience of my life! The amount of learning I picked up in those 13 months I wouldn't change for the world, which is a bit of a cliche, but anyone else who's been on a journey similar will understand what I mean.

"For me it was a perspective change. First of all I realised how much I depend on rugby for happiness, how much I really love the game and love being able to go and train with my teammates, and help contribute to a common goal.

"The second thing was just in terms of nothing coming easy, taking things day by day, but within those days you've got to wake up and be very focused on what you're trying to achieve that day, and fully commit to it.

"There are some dark days, but I found when you can commit and do what you need to do on those dark days, everything else becomes much easier.

"The last thing is... you kind of find out who your mates are when you're out of the limelight for 13 months. Some boys don't want anything to do with you, (they) forget about you completely; other guys are checking up on you. It highlights who your real friends are."

Finding light in the darkness

"It was actually a conversation with my old man. I had a tough day of rehab where I thought I was progressing really well, but the way I was achieving what I was achieving was incorrect. That set me back. I got in my car and I actually had to pull over and compose myself.

"After that I called my old man, and I was like 'mate, I don't know if I can do this much longer'. He said 'you've got to commit to it and keep going'. It was like a reset. I was ready to go again, from such a basic comment. That was the conversation that put me back on the right path."

Filling the time

"I did a degree in leadership and management. Someone told me to start a masters degree, and it was terrible. I hadn't done any education since school and I was like 'there's no chance I can do this' so I went and did an undergraduate first.

"That definitely helped. You can get bogged down in caring too much, but I also think it's very important for me to care as much as I do. At least when I'm done (in rugby), I can be happy knowing I gave everything to it."

The power of the mind

"Everyone goes through a bit of self-doubt. It's just controlling that. I worked with a sports psychologist who helped me so much. In the early days of my career, self doubt would be awful - I was so nervous before games, I didn't want to play.

"(Now) I get them (nerves) here and there. The big thing for me is acknowledging they're there, and if I don't get them acknowledging they're not there. Again, just trusting that my week's preparation has given me everything I need to do to go into this game confidently.

"I think it's huge (the mind). I think it's probably the most under-appreciated asset for any sportsman across the board."

Losing the World Cup final

"The whole week of the World Cup, my mindset was 'this is what I've prepared my whole life for'. There's no way I was going to go into that game feeling that I was underprepared. I was very focused on getting my preparation right. Just go out there and enjoy it - this is what you've wanted to do since you were a kid, and now you've got the opportunity.

"Unfortunately the way that the game was, it was a terrible experience! But you've got to learn from it, and what I learned was that finals are a completely different game to semi-finals. You can never leave anything out there. I've been to four or five finals and I haven't won any, so it highlighted to me the importance of winning, and that's why I've been focused on winning something with Bath.

"I don't think I'll ever get over the final because it was such an unbelievable opportunity for us, that we failed to achieve our goal that we set out to do. It's not something I'll ever get over, but I'll use it as much as I can.

"In terms of finals rugby, in terms of making the most of all those opportunities you get, it's definitely helped me. Similar to the Achilles, it was the best, worst experience!

"Whenever you end up talking about a World Cup, you think about getting another opportunity to win it. I wouldn't say it's something I think about regularly (but) I'd love to have another crack at winning a World Cup with England. After falling at the final hurdle, it hurts."

Positive influences in and out of sport

"Mike Ford was massive for me when I first joined Bath. He gave me so much confidence to play. He used to say 'I'd pay £20 to come and watch you play' - every time I just burst out laughter, it breaks down some of that nervous energy. I was 19, my nerves were through the roof.

"The person I rely on the most is my old man. He's inspired me the most to this day, and he's who I aspire to be most like. Seeing how he works, how he does things, how he is with people, makes me want to emulate him more than anyone else."

And finally, advice for listeners...

"Making sure that you continue to enjoy and love the thing that you're doing. Everything else comes so much easier if you can do that."


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