Watson open-minded on NRL future
Sydney Roosters utility Connor Watson is keeping an open mind about his rugby league future amidst speculation several rival clubs are keen to recruit the 21-year-old when his contract runs out in 2018.
Prior to securing a large chunk of game time in his last three games, Watson had been restricted coming off the bench in 2017 – averaging 15 minutes per game – sparking rumours the Auckland Nines player of the tournament could leave Bondi for more opportunities elsewhere.
New recruit Luke Keary has built a strong combination with NSW halfback Mitchell Pearce in the halves since joining the club from South Sydney and the Roosters' decision to sign James Tedesco for next season blocks a potential position in the spine for Watson in the future.
"I'm still under contract here for the next two years and I knew my role this year was going to be a utility," Watson told NRL.com.
"Being a utility, it can be hard to prepare for when you're going to go on because you don't know with how the game goes.
"For me this year there hasn't been too many injuries or moments where they've had to get me on the field.
"It was hard to see 'Nug' (Jake Friend) get hit early [against the Tigers on Sunday] but was good for me to get out there and play a long chunk of time in the middle of the field."
With his utility value proving one of Watson's biggest assets, the Country Origin representative said he had two favourite positions on the park.
"In the long term I want to be a starting player and play either five-eighth or fullback," he said.
"I grew up playing fullback and then came to the Roosters and played in the halves so either one of those positions.
"Once November comes around I'll look at my options and see where my future lies."
Watson admitted the signing of Tedesco for next season was disheartening, however he was also thrilled the Tricolours was able to recruit the incumbent Blues fullback.
"Yeah it was disappointing, but obviously Teddy is a world class player and as if the club wouldn't want to pursue him," he said.
"He's a great signing for us and with the side already stacked with class, he's only going to add even more to that. He's got spiders on him."
Roosters coach Trent Robinson admitted it came as no surprise the Kincumber junior's future was being discussed.
"[Connor's] one of the best young guys coming through and has played that way so there is obviously going to be some interest when somebody doesn't play a lot of time, everybody wants a player like him in that starting position," Robinson said after the Roosters' 40-18 win over the Tigers on Sunday.
"He is comfortable with the fact that he's a Roosters player and has worked so hard, but he's not comfortable because he's striving to be the best player he can be.
"That's good and what you want – both of that attitude."
Robinson said there would be no pressure to move Watson into a starting role in a bid to keep him at the club long-term but was confident both parties were on the same page.
"We've been pretty clear with Connor about being in that utility role for us," he said.
"He's just turned 21 so is still young and developing. If he's at our place he will have to bide some time and build into a starting position.
"We've had discussions [about rival clubs' interest] and are open to that type of stuff."
After losing skipper Jake Friend three minutes into the contest on the weekend with a heavy concussion, Robinson was pleased with Watson's transition into the dummy half role despite lack of game time and experience in the role.
"We gave him a rap after the game, he usually comes on for 10-minute stints at different times of a game and tries to do a lot in that time," Robinson said.
"I thought his composure throughout the whole game and from not playing much hooker in his whole life to playing for 75 minutes – it's hard to pick up the ball and continuously give good service."