Watson hopes Pearce follows him to Knights
The possibility of Newcastle Knights signing Mitchell Pearce could cost Connor Watson a shot at his preferred five-eighth role but he hopes his former Roosters teammate joins him at his new club.
The Dubbo-born utility admitted he was shocked his former club chased and signed premiership-winning halfback Cooper Cronk in recent weeks despite having a formidable halves pairing in Pearce and Luke Keary already at the helm.
"I am surprised that all happened," Watson, told NRL.com.
“I don't know how they (Roosters) have got that much money.”
Asked whether he could see Pearce slotting into the utility bench role he filled for two seasons and play second fiddle to Cronk, the 21-year-old had his doubts.
"I couldn't see a player of his calibre doing that, I can't believe we are all talking about it happening to a player like that at all," Watson said.
"If he's going to stay I don't know where they'll play him but that could be his role. I couldn't see him doing that but we’ll have to see what happens."
Watson said Pearce would be welcomed to the Knights, who have publicly expressed an interest in him if he was made available.
"To have a player like Pearce come up here would be unreal," Watson said.
"He's a world-class player, played 15 Origins, won a comp and a player like that is only going to add to a team."
Newcastle have Watson, former NSW halfback Trent Hodkinson, rising pivot Brock Lamb and rookie Jack Cogger fighting it out for positions in the halves.
The chance to cement the five-eighth spot was the biggest drawcard for Watson, who turned down an offer from the Wests Tigers to replace James Tedesco at fullback.
"There's no guarantees in rugby league but if I train and work hard I can make that position my own," Watson said.
"I think I'm a ball-runner first, I always have been and that's my biggest strength.
"I'll definitely be doing a lot of that. I grew up playing fullback but once I turned up at the Roosters they put me in the halves.
"There are a lot of things I have had to work on like my passing and kicking game. There's still a lot of things to do in that department too."
Growing up a Knights fan immediately sparked a connection for Watson, who stepped foot onto Newcastle’s training paddock for his first training session at Mayfield on Thursday.
The former Rooster went through a light workout alongside his new teammates and was unveiled as the second of eight Knights recruits the Knights for the 2018 season.
"It was good to blow the cobwebs out but I'm sore now, the legs are feeling it," Watson said.
"The move has been easier for me knowing most of the boys already. I grew up idolising Joey (Andrew Johns), Kurt Gidley and Danny Buderus too so it’s cool to be up here."
The 2017 NRL Nines player of the year had a bout of tonsillitis over the break, but is confident of getting back to full fitness with more conditioning in the coming weeks.
Watson returned to training a few days earlier than Roosters teammate Aidan Guerra, who is expected to start with the club next week.
"I've lost weight and am a bit rusty with my running and weights so hopefully that will come back in a week or two," Watson said.
"I got [tonsillitis] too many times so thought it was best to get it fixed up before moving here."
The Knights also confirmed new Cowboys recruit Kalyn Ponga will join the new-look squad on Monday.