Scotland coach Gregor Townsend has received a boost ahead of the upcoming Guinness Six Nations games against Wales and England.

Flanker Hamish Watson made an eagerly anticipated return to action for Edinburgh against Benetton in the Guinness PRO14 this weekend.

The 27 year old broke a bone in his hand during the Heineken European Champions Cup match against Montpellier in January.

His absence was one of many that forced Townsend to dig deep into his back row reserves. Scotland looked to be crying out for Watson’s ball winning skills during the hefty defeat away to France in the third round of Six Nations.

Should he come through the Italian job unscathed, he could come into the reckoning for a speedy international return. The first target will be the clash with Wales at BT Murrayfield on 8 March. If he is not ready for that, the trip to meet England at Twickenham the following week could see him back in the fold.

The dynamic openside, who has 23 caps to his credit, will be out of contract in the summer and has been linked with a move from the Scottish capital. However, Edinburgh coach Richard Cockerill is optimistic that a deal to keep him at the club will be concluded soon.

There was further good news for Scotland and Edinburgh when loose head prop WP Nel was also named in the squad to play Benetton. His absence was also sorely felt at the Stade de France.

The trip to Italy has taken on added significance for Edinburgh after losing against Cardiff Blues last week.

“It will be a very tough match, but the momentum of our season will swing if we can go there and win”, said Cockerill. “That’s the reality of the game and that’s our objective. We’ve got to be hungry to go there and win.”


Written By Colin Renton