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'I don’t think he intentionally led with his shoulder': Apology accepted and Watson moving on from hard SBW hit

Hard, but not the hardest hit the 23-year-old has suffered.

Image: Photosport/Andrew Cornaga/INPHO

LIONS AND ENGLAND wing Anthony Watson says Sonny Bill Williams DM’d him to apologise for the hit that earned the Kiwi a red card in last weekend’s second Lions Test.

Williams made no attempt to use his arms when moving in to make contact with the 23-year-old and drove him backwards with a powerful shoulder in the head, and the red card issued by Jerome Garces proved decisive as the Lions levelled the series in the star centre’s absence.

“He messaged me on Twitter to say there was no intention and I don’t doubt that,” Watson said today as he prepares for tomorrow’s deciding Test.

“I don’t think he’s a malicious player so I don’t think he intentionally led with his shoulder to hurt me or anything like that. It’s just unfortunate I guess.”

After the impact, Watson left the field for a head injury assessment to check for concussion. He passed and returned to play a part in the Lions’ 21 – 24 comeback win against the 14 men in black.

“I remember everything, obviously it was a big tackle and I had to go off for the HIA but felt fine. Came back on and felt fine and have done all the protocols stuff so everything has gone to plan.

Anthony Watson Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“Yeah, I had to brace myself for it I guess, but it’s part and parcel of the game, so it is what it is.”

It’s perhaps the most high-profile tackle Watson will ever receive in a career that has plenty of road left to run, however, he says it’s not the hardest hit he’s been the victim of. That honour goes to Harlequins wing Marland Yarde whose head broke Watson’s jaw during one of Eddie Jones’ infamous England training sessions in October.

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Sean Farrell

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