NRL 2017: Potential Knights recruit Connor Watson to start for Sydney Roosters against Newcastle on Friday

OPPORTUNITY: Dubbo product Connor Watson is set to start in the number one jersey on Friday night. Photo: AAP/DAN HIMBRECHTS
OPPORTUNITY: Dubbo product Connor Watson is set to start in the number one jersey on Friday night. Photo: AAP/DAN HIMBRECHTS

While it has not yet been confirmed, Connor Watson is expected to leave the Sydney Roosters for the Newcastle Knights in order to boost his chances of playing fullback in the NRL.

Ironically, a number of injuries within the Roosters ranks means the Dubbo product is every chance to be thrust into the number one jersey for Friday night’s clash with the Knights.

Not only that, he is likely to stay there for upcoming matches against ladder-leaders Melbourne, third-placed Manly and North Queensland.

The Roosters have been struck down by ill-timed injuries to workhorse hooker Jake Friend and consistent fullback Michael Gordon.

And while it could be seen as a blow to the side’s top-four hopes, coach Trent Robinson and his men see it as a chance to embrace young talent, grind out wins and then regain two key players in fresh shape for the finals.

While Gordon might be out for the rest of the regular season with a pectoral injury, the veteran has an apt replacement in Watson, a leading candidate to play fullback against Newcastle on Friday night.

Should Latrell Mitchell be handed the No.1 role instead, rising utility Watson could cover for Friend at hooker while the co-captain tends to his broken hand.

Either way, five-eighth Luke Keary wasn't feeling the pressure of a tight and tense top six.

"It'll be exciting to see Connor get a run there (at fullback), and then we've got some good young kids to fill in that No.9 position," Keary said.

"Mitch Cornish played a really good game against Souths so he'll probably slot in there at some point.

"It's not good but in saying that, they're both probably going to be back for that last little bit before the finals.

"That could be a bit of a blessing in disguise for us, to get a few of the old boys back fresh."

Watson’s ability to seamlessly slide into the number jersey or halves is a major reason behind is decision to link up with the Knights from three years from 2018, according to a number of reports.

Twenty-one-year-old Watson, born and raised in Dubbo before his family moved to the central coast, has played the bulk of his 29 NRL matches from the bench and his eagerness to start matches is also believed to be a major drawcard in linking up with Newcastle, a side which currently sits at the foot of the ladder.

He’ll get the chance to showcase his talents and ability to help guide a side around in the coming weeks and Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves is looking forward to the younger players stepping up.

"It's a good time for us to bring in some guys and see how they go, see if we're really up to scratch in the middle there,” he said.


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