Dubbo product Connor Watson part of new-look Newcastle Knights side

KEEN: Connor Watson in his first Newcastle training session last month. Photo: MARINA NEIL
KEEN: Connor Watson in his first Newcastle training session last month. Photo: MARINA NEIL

Connor Watson once spent his pocket money buying every Newcastle Knights jersey.

Now the Dubbo product is wearing one and is part of a Knights side which will be tasked with ending the club’s premiership drought in the coming years.

The former Sydney Roosters utility is one of a host of big-name players who have made the move to the Hunter for season 2018.

The signing of Mitchell Pearce last week has many putting the Knights in the finals race and Watson is just thrilled to be at club he cheered for as a child.

“The day I started supporting them was the day of the 2001 grand final, when they won,” he recalled. “We were going down on the train and all my family were going for Parramatta and I said, no … I’m going for the Knights, and they ended up winning.

“So I’ve grown up with all the jerseys and everything, so it’s been really cool.

“I’ve always dreamed, since I was a kid, of playing for the Knights.”

Pearce's signing has capped an impressive recruitment drive headed by football manager Darren Mooney and created a sense of optimism at the Knights after back-to-back wooden spoons.

As well as Pearce and Watson, the Knights have also brought in seasoned forwards Aidan Guerra, Chris Heighington and Jacob Lillyman and Brisbane stars Tautau Moga and Herman Ese'ese.

Coach Nathan Brown said his club still had room to move in the salary cap and more signings could be forthcoming.

"We're still in a good spot to do more things and Moons is always talking about players," he said.

"Whether we're finished for this season or not, only time will tell."