Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Nines Bolters to Give NRL Clubs Selection Headaches

Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Nines Bolters to Give NRL Clubs Selection Headaches

Article excerpt


RUGBY LEAGUE: After a standout Auckland Nines campaign Connor Watson is the name on everyone's lips.

But the question they're all asking is - how will he fit into Trent Robinson's Sydney Roosters team this season?

Late last year Watson made eight NRL appearances at five-eighth, partnering Mitchell Pearce as the tri colours began to click.

Fast forward a few months and it was Luke Keary's name being bandied around as the Roosters' first choice No.6 for the 2017 season.

But is it possible that with a Nines tournament MVP gong, Watson could be turning the tide in his favour?

After Keary signed with the Roosters, he spent some time playing off the bench at South Sydney last season as Cody Walker declared himself a genuine first-grade playmaker.

His impact from the bench was dominant.

In all likelihood it'll be Watson who satisfies such a utility role at the Roosters but his dominant performance in Auckland can't be overlooked by the 2017 champs.

"From the first game to the last game, the kid grew," coach Robinson said.

"He's a really important player in our team.

"But we went out and brought Luke Keary for a reason. He's won an NRL (grand) final. He's a very good player and he's shown that.

"Connor's got a big part to play in our team. He's going to play a lot of footy and he knows that, we've already talked about that."

It wasn't just Watson thrusting himself into the conversation for round one by producing standout efforts.

Kalyn Ponga, a member of the Nines team of the tournament along with Watson, was by far the Cowboys' best.

His speed, agility and vision saw the teenager create several mind-blowing pieces of play.

His performance was closely followed by flyer Gideon Gela-Mosby.

A graduate of the 20s competition, Gela-Mosby is off-contract and still yet to break into the NRL. …

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