Watson's tears tell the story of England's fitness race to final

Anthony Watson tried to tell anyone that would listen that he had blood in his eye, writes Charlie Talbot-Smith.

Anything to try and explain away the tears that were flooding down his cheeks at full time last weekend in Yokohama.

But his teammates knew better. This was real emotion from the England winger who has had to travel a torturous path to get back to the top.

Two serious injuries to his Achilles tendon meant that Watson at one point feared he might never get back to where he belongs.

But a kick up the arse from his father banished those negative thoughts a while ago, and after a stunning individual showing against the All Blacks the relief was palpable.

“I have tried lying and saying that my eye was bleeding. But not too many people believed me,” he said on Thursday after being named to start in Saturday’s World Cup final against South Africa.

“I don’t know what it was to be fair. After 13 months that I have had, this time last year I couldn’t lift my heel off the floor, I could barely walk without a limp so I was very appreciative for the moment that I had there and then.

“There were two or three days in particular where I was very dark, considering whether I'd ever again be able to run at the same speed, change direction and stuff like that.

“Those days were very tough. I was lucky that I had a very strong support group around me of friends and family.”

Kyle Sinckler was someone Watson lent on support through those tough times.

And another man who has been through his own injury hell in Manu Tuilagi was the first to comfort Watson at the final whistle in Yokohama.

It really is remarkable that it has all come together for this England team for the biggest game.

In addition to Tuilagi and Watson, the Vunipola brothers have had to deal with their own fitness nightmares over the last two seasons.

“It was actually quite ironic that the one person who knew why I was particularly upset or emotional in that moment was actually Manu who has been through exactly if not worse situations,” added Watson.

“To have someone there with the experience and the skill like Manu was very comforting as well.”

But it is not just fluke that England are firing on all cylinders for the final game of the big one.

As Tuilagi said: “The physios and all the staff look after us really well.

"Carl our chef cooks amazing food for us so that it enables us to feel good and train well and work hard on the pitch.

“That's the most important thing - to get your body right and then work hard.”

Indeed, it is a triumph for the backroom staff as much as the 31 men out on the training field this week.

Watson added: “As Chief (Manu) said there, the physios have been world class. Bob Stewart took great care of me even when I wasn't in the set up. He was texting me on a regular basis seeing what I was doing, bouncing ideas off me.

“I'm very appreciative of the position we're in this week but it won't make sense unless we get the win.”

Indeed, these circuitous routes back the top have taken an age to come to fruition.

But they need the icing on the cake, a World Cup crown.

“I feel very blessed to be here and to be able to get this opportunity to play in another World Cup,” added Tuilagi, who missed the 2015 tournament where Watson burst onto the scene.

“To be here now, the opportunity to get involved in the final, I never dreamed of it, it was beyond my dreams. For me I am just thankful to God for his guidance, that has got us here where we are today.”

Faith and family deserve extra special praise, and Watson is delighted to here that his brothers Marcus and Callum are en route to Japan as we speak.

Much like Ben Curry, Tom’s twin who has also flown out, the importance of the moment has not been missed.

For the Tuilagi clan, it has been somewhat more complicated.

“I have got my brother here, Freddie. My other brother Henry was supposed to come, but couldn’t get his visa in time. My Mrs will be here as well, so I am looking forward to seeing them,” he added.

“It is a great position to be in. If we win, obviously it is going to be a special moment and something that is going to be with us for the rest of our lives.

“We have to put everything into it to get that win. It’s going to be tough, so we are not thinking about anything, just our game-plan and how we are going to execute it.”

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