London - England
wing Anthony Watson will play no further part in his club Bath's
Premiership battle to make the playoffs because of an Achilles injury
suffered in last Saturday's Six Nations defeat by Ireland.
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Watson is expected to be sidelined for up to six months, therefore also ruling him out of contention for England's three-Test tour of South Africa in June.
Todd Blackadder, Bath's director of rugby, tweeted the news,
confirming what England head coach Eddie Jones had feared in the
immediate aftermath of the 24-15 loss at Twickenham which secured the
Irish the Grand Slam.
"Anthony has been in superb form this year, and we're obviously
really disappointed to have lost him at a critical part of the season,"
tweeted former New Zealand captain Blackadder.
Watson, 24, who underwent rehabilitation work on another Achilles
injury last year, played at fullback on Saturday and suffered the injury
just after the half-hour mark.
Watson, who has scored 15 tries in 33 Tests but looked uncomfortable
in his position at fullback, had to be driven off in a buggy and
replaced by Mike Brown, whose place he had taken in the starting
Bath, who have been crowned champions six times but not since 1996,
are seventh in the table with five matches of the regular season
However, only 11 points separate second-placed Wasps (54 points) and
Sale in eighth - champions Exeter are the runaway leaders on 61 - with
the top four contesting the playoffs.
Watson's injury is a blow to Jones, who is in charge of a side reeling after three
successive Six Nations defeats, the first time since the 2006 edition
that has happened.