Who should play five-eighth for the Chooks? Elementary – it’s Watson!
Stunning Nines form puts Connor ahead in the halves race
LITTLE-KNOWN CONNOR Watson has revealed himself as the man to help lead a young generation of Roosters into a bold new era for the club in coming years.
A 20-year-old rookie with just 16 top-grade games to his name, Watson was named man of the tournament as the Roosters swept to victory in the Auckland Nines.
The Bondi club recruited Luke Keary to partner Mitchell Pearce in the halves, but Watson’s display – and his great form in 2016 – is putting incredible pressure on the former Rabbitoh as he aims to fill the No.6 jersey.
“He’s just so cool under pressure for a kid and always comes up with the right plays,” Roosters Nines skipper Mitch Aubusson says.
“I was amazed at how he took control of games and directed us around the park.
“We’ve always thought Connor had a big future and now he’ll go on from this to great things.”
Watson was instrumental in the Roosters’ win, setting up the stunning last-gasp try that saw off Melbourne in the semis, and having a hand in the Chooks’ two fourpointers in the final.
Watson’s superb performance has left coach Trent Robinson with a pleasant headache in the halves, and while he loved what he saw, he’s remaining cagey on who’s leading the pivot race.
“Connor grew in stature from the first game to the final – it was great to see,” Robinson says.
“We went out and bought Luke Keary but Connor is still a very important player for us.
“There is huge competition for spots and we are building for the future. There will be a place for him in there somewhere.”
Watson’s fellow players were in awe of his maturity.
“He just called the shots and showed how valuable he will be for the club in years to come,” lock Paul Carter says. “He’s the type of guy you like to play alongside because he always seems to take the right option under pressure.”
“He’s a genuine footballer,” Aubusson reckons. “The guy is a weapon and can play just about anywhere in the backline – he’s going to be great for us this year.”
After the win Watson told RLW that the Roosters snatched him away from a promising rugby union career.
“I played league and union as a kid and won a union scholarship to Knox school to play rugby in my last two years of high school,” the youngster says.
“From there I got a call from the Australian national sevens coach and it was very flattering – they wanted me in their program.
“But I loved league and the Roosters were keen, so I decided to commit to them.”
ROOSTERS CROWING ABOUT CONNOR His peers were in awe of his feats at the Nines, but Connor Watson is still in a battle for the five-eighth spot.