With 2016 pre-season coming to a halt and the boys about to break over Christmas, we caught up with Connor Watson for a quick Q&A to reflect on last year, discuss the pre-season and find out where he's at going into the break.
This is your second pre-season with the NRL squad. How are you finding your second year compared to your first?
I feel like I now know what mindset to be in for training every day.
Last year I’d just come off a 20s pre-season, so I got a shock when I went from training for a couple of hours in the afternoon to a full day from 8am and leaving at 5pm.
This year is different, because we’re spending more time working on the more basic skills.
For me it’s perfect because I need to improve my passing and kicking game, so it’s really helping a lot.
How is the body feeling ahead of the new season?
Yeah it’s really good.
Obviously I had some troubles last year, but everything feels better than it did last year.
The physio’s and medical staff have done wonders to help me with the workload and I’ve been doing lots of extras
Last year you played the first few weeks in the Holden Cup, then you played in Wyong, then you finally got your call-up to play first grade. What was going through your mind at that point?
It was pretty surreal to be honest.
I didn’t really know what to say until Robbo told me, it was like my childhood dream had finally come true.
It was something I’d wanted to do since I was a five-year old playing footy.
I was pretty quiet and shocked, but it was pretty awesome and I was so excited to tell my family and friends.
It was a tough season with the Roosters, and at the back end of the year you were called in to start at five-eighth. It must have been an honour to know that you’d become the first choice!
Yeah it was a massive honour!
Obviously the five-eighth jersey here at the Roosters is pretty special.
After all, one of the greatest all time players wore it here, so for me to be able to do it was incredible.
In my first 80-minute game, my legs definitely felt the difference between that and coming off the bench for 20 minutes.
My legs definitely felt it for the first couple of weeks, but it doesn’t matter because all I’ve ever wanted to do is start a game at first grade.
Do you remember your first start against the Sharks?
Yeah! My legs went after about 20 minutes (He said laughing).
It was a pretty good performance though, scored a try and had a couple of try assists.
Yeah it was good.
I enjoyed the experience of being able to build into a game.
When I was coming off the bench I was chucked on and it felt like I had to do something straight away so I was pretty frantic.
But starting I felt like I could ease my way into the game and take the opportunities that were presented.
Obviously I got a lot more opportunities because I was on the field for the whole game, where as when I was coming off the bench I got one, maybe two opportunities.
You started the season with the Holden Cup squad, then you went on to watch them play themselves into the Holden Cup Grand Final. How was it starting the season with those boys, and then watching them go on to do what they did?
I was watching the Grand final and thinking how much I would have loved to be a part of it.
I started the season with those boys, but they got to that position without me, so every player that played in that Grand Final deserved to be there.
Me being a football player, I’m competitive and I strive to win Grand Finals, so of course I wanted to be there.
I was jealous, but those boys definitely deserved everything they got.
You’ve spent a lot of time playing with some of those younger guys like Grant Garvey, Nat Butcher and Joseph Manu. Who’s your tip to have a big year in 2017?
I think Joey Manu definitely.
He played a couple of first grade games last year so we got to see a little bit of what he’s capable of, but I think with a bit more time we’ll really get to see his true colours.
To put it simply, he’s a freak!
We’re heading into a brand new year. Everything starts again, you’re training well, your body is feeling good, have you set yourself any goals ahead of the new season?
I just want to stay injury free and play first grade every week.
Where that is in the 17 I’m not sure yet, but I definitely want to be there every week.