Q&A with Luke Watson

2011-05-19 08:51

Tank Lanning

Cape Town – Not one to dodge controversy, Luke Watson arrived back in South Africa with a fair amount of fanfare, announcing that he had signed a management deal with local media house, Highbury Safika Media (HSM - publishers of SA Rugby magazine and amongst others), who confirmed their entry into the sports management market.

GALLERY: Luke Watson chats to the media

Watson arrives in Port Elizabeth at the weekend and his first task with his new franchise will be to represent the Kings in June’s IRB sanctioned Emerging Nations tournament to be hosted by Romania. The Kings replace the Emerging Springboks as South Africa’s tournament representative.

I took the opportunity to have an open and relaxed chat with the Springbok, Bath, Sharks, Stormers and now EP Kings loose forward ...

So what brings you back?
“There have been many people who have questioned my sanity for giving up what I had in Bath to return to Port Elizabeth, but those close to me will know what the region means to me, and my partnership with HSM will also allow me to make a contribution that goes beyond what I do on the field every weekend. I really am fired up to back in PE, and cannot wait to see what we can do to build rugby up again. My goal is to help the Kings achieve Super Rugby status and then attract good players.”

Did coach Alan Solomons play any part?
“To be honest, I was sitting on the fence until I had a chat to Solly – He was just so inspiring. Coming from Bath where both Butch (James) and I were given a fair amount of free reign, I prefer a creative, expansive, high risk environment, and Solly indicated that this would indeed be the way the Kings would play their rugby.”

Luke, I played under Solly for 5 years at UCT, and he was a much more structured coach than he seems to be making out?

“Ja, I think Solly has walked a long road, and via his experiences with Western Province, the Stormers, the Boks, in Ireland, the Baa Baas and the Kings, I get the feeling that he has evolved a fair amount, and is now open to playing a more free flowing style of rugby.”

Will you make yourself available to play Super Rugby for another franchise next year?

“Nope, I have committed 100% to the EP Kings, and will not be playing Super Rugby for any other province. It’s only a few months of the season, and actually by not playing Super Rugby, a player can lengthen his playing career, so it might be good for me on a few fronts.”

Speaking of Super Rugby, what do you think of the current structure?
“I think the current structure is ridiculous! How can you have some sides missing out on playing the top sides, yet picking up points by playing bottom teams? South Africa have the most physical teams, while Australia's teams could easily pick up points against the Melbourne Rebels and Western Force. Also, given that I have seen plenty of empty seats at Loftus of all places, I think there might be too much rugby being played. I think they should re-look at the structure of Super Rugby.”

So how do you see The Kings fitting in?
“Look, I am no administrator, and I would not like to be seen to be telling them how to do their jobs, but one thing I know is that the Kings would not do worse than some of the sides that are playing Super Rugby at the moment. I am not sure if it would mean a return to the Cats concept where the Lions and Cheetahs combine, or if we lose one of the current five sides playing, but I truly believe that Eastern Province can hold their head high in Super Rugby and deserve a spot at the table.”

Any players caught your eye?
“I have a very high regard for both Duane Vermeulen and Heinrich Brussow. How Vermeulen has not played Test rugby is beyond me – he has consistently been the best performing number 8 in Super Rugby. Yes, we have good loose forwards, but surely he could play a Test or two? I’d also like to see how Patrick Lambie goes at flyhalf in two or three Tests, while Peter Grant also deserves an opportunity. But it’s great to see the depth we have in every position. Unlike the All Blacks in a funny way – they would be in a bit of trouble if they lost Carter or McCaw.”

Speaking of the loose forwards, how has the role of the open-sider evolved, and has your game changed at all?
“Yes, things have certainly changed a fair amount on that front. In a squad I still think there is space for an out and out fetcher like Brussow, as they can be used to slow the ball down at certain times in the game, but in general, I think the game is demanding a more rounded player like a Francois Louw. The game needs ball carriers and people who can link with other players. One has to compare the three steals a fetcher would get you with the ball carries and tackles a more rounded player would pull off. Also with turnovers coming more from the counter ruck at the moment, the breakdown calls for players who perhaps get there a little later, and can perform the counter ruck effectively. As to my game, I have always tried to be a bit more than just an out and out to the ball guy, mainly because I love to run with the ball. Bath used me in all three loose forward positions and that suited me just fine.”

Selecting overseas based players?
“I have mixed feelings on the subject. There is no doubt that players go abroad because of better salaries but the game locally is poorer off without them. On the one hand I agree with not selecting the overseas based players as I am a fan of keeping the talent here in SA. But then the salaries would at least need to be competitive. And on the other hand, if a top player does go and play overseas, why shoot yourself in the foot by not selecting him? To be honest, I do not have the answer on that one.”

And finally ... Any Bok aspirations?
“If I get the chance to play for the Boks again, I would do so proudly.”


  • Peter Britz - 2011-05-19 09:06

    Ha Ha, he is a funny fella, Cool Hand luke is! Kings would not do worse than the Cheetahs or Lions? Get real, the Kings can't even compete with these teams CC sides! Sure, they can occassionaly beat the Cheetahs, and Lions VC sides. Yeah, you tell them Luke!!

      gooinat - 2011-05-19 09:16

      They beat the Bulls earlier in the year:):)

      Hanjo - 2011-05-19 09:20

      The Kings, if they get the Promotion, will probably look to buy some talent, like the Rebels did, the difference being, they already have a structure, and a basic squad, where the Rebels had to start from scratch, The Kings can be competitive, they can surely sign some big names once they reach super rugby status. there's also the option of some overseas based players returning, and the combination of experience and youth is key to being competitive. remember, roughly 40% of SA's ruby playing talent, originates from EP

      Hanjo - 2011-05-19 09:38

      @eveready, as ons spanne uit die kompetisie gooi omdat hulle teen die crusaders al verloor het, gaan ons nie meer spanne oor he nie, die Stormers was in die Final laas jaar, en is huidiglik die top SA span, (punte) so ek verstaan dat as enige span (op die seisoen se vorm) sy plek in die kompetisie moet verloor is dit die leeus, maar die Cheetahs, al speel hul great rugby, is nogsteeds 2de laaste in SA soos dinge nou staan.

      !!Vrystaat!! - 2011-05-19 11:13

      @Hanjo Die seisoen is nog nie verby nie. En as span moet gaan is dit die laaste een nie 2de laaste, dus is die Vrystaat nie in gedrang nie.

      Hanjo - 2011-05-19 14:25

      ja vrystaat, ek weet, maar in die artikel word daar verwys na Cheetahs en Lions wat weer dalk kan saam speel as die cats, so dan sal altwee spanne hul individuele super rugby status verloor. ek het ook maar net reply vir everready hier bo. die ding is, huidiglik is die kings sonder hom, en as hulle wel deel sal vorm van die super rugby kompetitsie, sal hulle kyk om groot naam spelers by hul huidige squad te add. ek stem saam jou, dat op huidige vorm die Cheetahs baie goed lyk, en baie goed speel.

  • katman - 2011-05-19 09:13

    I also fail to see how the Kings would do no worse than the Lions or Cheetahs, when they couldn't even qualify for top flight Currie Cup. Let them play off, home and away, against the lowest side on the SA log. That should decide it. If it doesn't work out for them next year, then can can try again the following year.

  • Stephen - 2011-05-19 09:14

    Welcome to PE Luke, hope your association with the city and the team is a good one, look forward to seeing you play.

  • MaanDonkie - 2011-05-19 09:20

    Expansive, high risk no another bunch of idiots without a game plan. Good luck Spears...hope you'll be sharp enough against real oponents.

  • gooinat - 2011-05-19 09:22

    I think this guy deserves another chance,fair enough he's comments that he made were uncalled for,however he has not disgraced himself when he wore the bok jersey like certain other rugby players that get banned for 9 weeks etc,I for one am glad he is back, Kings rugby(EP)will be back again in top flight rugby,good luck.

      johandebeer - 2011-05-19 21:47

      He was a major reason why Jake White is not the Bok coach today

      heilajay - 2011-05-19 23:10

      For what dose he deserve another chance? to puke on the National jersey because he can't get his way, poor kid, realy!

  • Nick Klichowicz - 2011-05-19 09:41

    I think we must not loose fact that the EP Kings and Southern Kings are two different teams. EP Kings is the Curry Cup Side and Southern Kings is the Super rugby team.

  • wdi - 2011-05-19 10:08

    What makes Mr. Watson so newsworthy that he now seems to be a permanent fixture on sport24? Is it because of his dad and the Kings (politics) or his connection with KEO (money)? I personally just don't care.

      Igenatius - 2011-05-19 12:48

      Spot on! These guys are tightly knit with the politicle cadres of SA. A space will always be made for your chommie. You know how it is...

      johandebeer - 2011-05-19 21:49


      Andrew - 2011-05-20 03:29

      And since does his opinion count anyway?

  • Krugga - 2011-05-19 10:24

    Dont like the man and I'd rather support the Mugabe invitational 15 than the Stormers, but his mental toughness and leadership skills are sorely missed at Province.

  • Yacoob_Y - 2011-05-19 10:32

    the prodigal son has returned welcome home Luke welcome home

      johandebeer - 2011-05-19 21:50

      What made him the prodigal son?

  • !!Vrystaat!! - 2011-05-19 11:06

    I really hope they will stop waisting their time with this oak and give us some decent rugby news ! Really why must we be punished to listen to all this crap, let them post this on Keo's website and leave us with good rugby news, games start tomorrow and we still need to read about him.. So he rides on daddy's politics and keo's money so what tell it to people who care, just not here where rugby supporters actually come to read news that matter.

  • PussyGalore - 2011-05-19 11:28

    Welcome back Luke Don't forget to take your anti-nausea pills.

  • Bellakanoose - 2011-05-19 11:47


  • Bellakanoose - 2011-05-19 11:49

    And Mark Keohane is as dodgy as fck! No wonder Puke and him are bum chums...

  • Speedy - 2011-05-19 11:59

    The only reason he is playing for the Kings is that his dad (or his uncle?) is the elected head of EP Rugby. How good could it have been at Bath if he's come back? You wonder why?

  • JR - 2011-05-19 12:06

    Puke! Puke! Puke! Puke!

  • roy.roux - 2011-05-19 13:11

    He single handedly destroyed the character of Western Province rugby by insisting on holding the ball at the ball of the mall and then slowly trundling away with it only to be caught 9 times out of ten before offloading to a faster runner. Please send him back to Bath.

  • Viv - 2011-05-19 13:23

    Bwhahahahahahaha - I nearly cried from laughter. Yeah, yeah Lukie whatever. Whatever helps you sleep at night son. Daddy's team was probably the only team that wanted you and that was only because Dad pushed them into it.

      Bellakanoose - 2011-05-19 14:00

      His Dad is cheeky like that....

      Bellakanoose - 2011-05-19 14:00

      And a bit pushy....

      johandebeer - 2011-05-19 21:54

      Maybe daddy will even make him captain.

  • John - 2011-05-19 14:07

    Good interview Tank and intelligent answers coming from Watson. Having grown up in PE and an ex Grey boy I can relate to Luke being genuine about wanting to make a difference. The Eastern Cape have great schools & the public love their sport. It would be great to see PE back on the map.

  • Stollie - 2011-05-19 15:39

    who gave this clown a microphone?

  • johandebeer - 2011-05-19 19:34

    Watson, you are an opportunist and a traitor. We do not want you back here, please go away. Your comments about a fetcher flank is so one dimensional..are you saying that a fetcher can not tacle or carry the ball? Oh, wait, you are trying to discredit Brussow - ok. Stick to politics - it suits you better.

      johandebeer - 2011-05-19 21:42

      Enrolics, you are making such a well thought through and informed point. The fact that you have to revert to swearing (without saying anything else) just proves what an intellectual giant you must be. Which part of my statement makes me prejudiced?

      heilajay - 2011-05-19 23:12

      Just shows the mentality, how do you find this post to be prjudice? Just sticking to the facts!

      Andrew - 2011-05-20 03:37

      When Brussow played for the Boks we won the Tri-nations, mostly by kicking penalties, how many of the penatlties did he win for us?

      johandebeer - 2011-05-21 16:39

      Yeah, Enrolics - better to rather delete your reply...

  • Whoosa - 2011-05-20 06:24

    Hes dad and family are frauds. Big investigation going on down in the ec against them, for dodgy tender deals supplying the Sa correctional service with food and clothes. A typical anc thing, but word around the campfire is that nothing wil happen cause hey are to connected! Clearly in this article you can hear he's hatred towards "dutchman" as he called them. (refering to empty loftus and cheetahs and lions) Tipical anc scum he is and his family. In a another article he even said that he was misqouted and things were tkaen out of context on the whole puke saga. Typical! Luke, come here, closer my friend, turn your head, yes side ways, "JOU D**S!!!!!

  • Dakar - 2011-05-20 10:09

    WELCOME BACK..............Only problem is you are not in a WP jersey..:-) Good luck with your future plans.

  • Punani - 2011-05-20 12:51

    *Sigh* I thought this ponce had disappeared forever. SA Rugby was so much better off without him. Now he's back and some dingbat puts a microphone in front of him. He's rugby's version of Julius Malema: arrogant, stupid and drowning in self entitlement. Apartheid affected the whole country, not just the little hamlets that make up the Eastern Cape. If the Kings (or Spears or Mighty Elephants or whatever name these idiots go under now) want to play Super Rugby they should have to play promotion relegation. But wait, they can't even qualify for the Currie Cup and can'y even make the semi-final play offs of the Vodacom Cup. These bottom feeders shouldn't be allowed in!

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