Watson to make most of utility value
Roosters playmaker Connor Watson has welcomed the arrival of Luke Keary at the club, even if it costs him a spot in the halves.
Watson burst onto the scene in 2016 with a series of eye-catching performances off the bench before he was given a shot in the No.6 jersey for the final eight rounds of the regular season when he forged a formidable combination with halfback Mitchell Pearce.
However, Keary's move from the Rabbitohs to the Roosters means Watson will likely relinquish his starting spot to the more experienced premiership winner.
Having played a number of different positions in the lower grades, Watson is willing to play wherever coach Trent Robinson thinks is best – even if that means coming off the bench like he did for the Junior Kangaroos last May.
The 20-year-old was circumspect about his role in 2017, telling NRL.com it would in fact be advantageous having both he and Keary in the same 17.
'We've both been training in the role, but I've also been training in different positions," Watson said at the Nines fan day in Auckland.
"I've always been able to cover the utility role so I've been able to play hooker, five-eighth, fullback and in the centres if they need me. I'm happy to play wherever and do whatever Robbo wants me to do.
"I made my debut coming off the bench but I came on in the halves because one of the boys got injured.
"For about 10 games I came off the bench and jumped in at hooker or as a roving lock so I am more than happy to cover a few positions as long as I'm playing first grade."
Back in Auckland for his second appearance in the Nines, Watson reflected on the impact the pre-season tournament had on his development as a rugby league player.
"It's not very often that you get to play with nine players on the field and I guess that's what every player dreams of, especially the outside backs and playmakers," he said.
"I got to play it last year and it was a lot of fun, but more importantly it was a bit of a learning experience for me because it was my first taste of playing with and against regular first-graders.
"I'm a bit more confident in my own ability going into it this year because I know that I can compete and I feel like I definitely belong."
The Roosters have been handed one of the toughest draws this weekend with the Tricolours set to take on inaugural champions the Cowboys in the Hunua Pool before matches against 2015 champions South Sydney and the Raiders, who finished second in last year's Telstra Premiership.
Watson conceded his side wouldn't be able to match the size of some of the bigger teams in the Nines, but was confident the Roosters would trouble the opposition with their versatility across the park.
"Looking at the other sides, we probably don't have as much size as them, but we've got plenty of versatile players who can play anywhere from the back row all the way to the wing. I think you'll see a lot of ball movement and a lot of speed from us."
This article first appeared on NRL.COM