Who should play five-eighth for the Chooks? El­e­men­tary – it’s Wat­son!

Stun­ning Nines form puts Con­nor ahead in the halves race

Rugby League Week - - News - BY TONY ADAMS

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.

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