Supplied by the STUFF website – as reported by BRENDON EGAN 8/4/2016 –
In an age where rugby players regularly jump between clubs, Shirley’s Phil Watson is a refreshing change.
The loose forward will achieve a rare feat on Saturday when he brings up his 200th Canterbury Metro senior game for the team against Linwood at Rugby Park.
Shirley have struggled for wins in recent times, but the 31-year-old never thought about looking elsewhere.
“I’m a pretty loyal guy. I don’t like the whole disloyalty that happens around the clubs at the moment.
“I like being able to say, ‘I’m a true club man’ and stick to that. It’s pretty important to me.”
Watson joined the Shirley seniors in 2003 after moving to Christchurch from Ashburton to attend university.
He missed one season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the opening game and has had three ACL reconstructions.
Not even that could dampen his enthusiasm.
“I just love the game. I love being in that team environment and it’s not something I’ve ever wanted to do half-assed.
“When I commit to a team or season, I really commit to it. I give it everything I’ve got.”
Watson made his debut at openside flanker against New Brighton at Burwood Park in 2003 and recalls a busy afternoon against the Keats brothers, Tyson and Jamyn.
He enjoyed a victory in his 100th match against Belfast and said a win over Linwood on Saturday would cap off a memorable occasion.
Former Shirley stalwart, No 8 Chris McGrath, was the last man to bring up 200 senior appearances for the club.
Watson, who is master in charge of rugby and a physical education teacher at Christchurch Boys’ High, has enjoyed testing himself against the leading club players in Canterbury.
He took on former Crusaders’ and All Blacks’ first five Andrew Mehrtens, who was playing for HSOB, in his first season and has marked up against Crusader and All Black flankers Matt Todd and Reuben Thorne, who was at the end of his career.
Two victories which stuck out were an elusive triumph over Christchurch in 2010 and knocking over a strong Linwood side at Linfield Park in 2013 to capture the DCL Shield.
Watson previously played for Canterbury under-19s and was a member of the Canterbury Metro side last season.
Shirley celebrate their centenary next year and he was optimistic about where the senior side was headed under coach Jimmy Hema, in his first full season.
“I can see the club moving in a really good direction. We’ve got new coaches this year and the culture and belief they’re bringing is pretty important.
“The way we’re playing the game seems a lot better. We’re a lot more on par with what everybody else is doing.”
Watson said they were trying to forge stronger links with Shirley Boys’ High and attract their leading players to the club.
Saturday is a day for Shirley milestones. Fullback Liam Timoteo is playing his 50th senior game for the team.