England star Anthony Watson on comeback trail for Rugby World Cup after missing Six Nations following injury hell

ANTHONY WATSON is relying on tough love, a doting partner and the infectious Fijian spirit to get him through a 12-month injury nightmare.

The Bath and England full-back, 25, ruptured the Achilles tendon in his left leg TWICE since last March.

 Anthony Watson is taken off during England's humiliating Six Nations loss to Ireland 12 months ago

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Anthony Watson is taken off during England's humiliating Six Nations loss to Ireland 12 months ago

And he is indebted to his inner circle for keeping his chin up — even if his dad Duncan’s style is straight from the old school.

He said: “I had just started walking again when I suffered the second injury.

“So to then go back to sitting at home doing nothing and being on crutches for another seven weeks in the height of summer… that was definitely the worst bit.

“After I re-ruptured it my dad was pretty p****d off with me and I don’t know why.

“He’s not been harsh, just on to me about not getting down.

“He talks straight to me, there’s no sugar-coating anything — that’s the way it should be.

“When I said that it was breaking me and killing me, he just said, ‘Mate, get on with it’.”

“And my partner Alyse has been awesome keeping my morale high.

“It’s been tough dealing with me bed-bound and miserable but she’s passed with flying colours!”

The Bath flier has also benefited by a strong bond forged with Fiji.

Eddie has messaged me here and there, seeing how I’m doing, making sure I’ve got everything I need and checking up to see when I will be fit.

Anthony Watson on Eddie Jones

Having played alongside Fijian-born England wings Joe Cokanasiga and Semesa Rokodoguni and Islanders’ scrum-half Nikola Matawalu at The Rec, Watson admits their infectious South Sea Island character rubs off on him.

He even visited Fiji with England prop Kyle Sinckler after the 2017 Lions Tour to New Zealand.

The pair shared a few ‘bowls’ of the local brew Kava with All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams — who was sent off for shoulder-charging Watson in the Second Lions Test.

Watson added: “Having played with Fijians you see on a daily basis how different their perspective is.

“I am yet to see Rokodoguni or Cokanasiga in a bad mood.

“That spirit is very endearing and there are definitely aspects that have changed how I approach things.

“Just being around them and seeing how they look at certain things, it makes going to training that bit more enjoyable.”

Watson piled up 15 tries in 33 England Tests before his injury and would have been a shoo-in for Eddie Jones’ World Cup squad.

He was initially written off for six months after being carted off during the Six Nations clash with Ireland last March.

But a second operation in August, after re- rupturing the same Achilles during a photoshoot, sidelined him for longer.

Now with just six games left in Bath’s season — starting at Premiership leaders Exeter tomorrow — Watson knows time is running out before the Red Rose plane takes off for Japan in September.

He said: “Other people can look ahead and start planning.

“But having not played for a year I haven’t earned the right to look that far forward.

“Eddie has messaged me here and there, seeing how I’m doing, making sure I’ve got everything I need and checking up to see when I will be fit.

 Watson was a key part of Warren Gatland's Lions team as they tied the All Blacks

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Watson was a key part of Warren Gatland's Lions team as they tied the All Blacks
 Anthony Watson enjoying a game of rugby with locals at Fiji's Sigatoka Sand Dunes National Park

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Anthony Watson enjoying a game of rugby with locals at Fiji's Sigatoka Sand Dunes National Park
 Anthony Watson and Kyle Sinckler enjoying a foot massage at the Pure Fiji Spa in Suva

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Anthony Watson and Kyle Sinckler enjoying a foot massage at the Pure Fiji Spa in Suva

“But having been part of the set-up, I fully believe in the guys.

“The competition in the back three is incredibly strong and they all played well in the Six Nations.

“You know you are going to be pushed along and challenged, which is ideal. It brings out the best in people.”

Anthony Watson speaking during Tourism Fiji's Bulanaires launch. Fiji is celebrated for its happy, welcoming people and traditional culture which offer memorable experiences to its visitors. To share the ‘Bula Spirit’ Tourism Fiji has released a 'Bulanaires list' of individuals rich in happiness. Find out more about the list by visiting bulanaires.com. Learn more about Fiji at www.fiji.travel.

ANTHONY WATSON is relying on tough love, a doting partner and the infectious Fijian spirit to get him through a 12-month injury nightmare.