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O'Brien watchful of Watt on debut

By Roger Vaughan 07/06/2009 04:15:59 PM Comments (0)

Collingwood defender Harry O'Brien senses he is about to witness up close the start of a memorable AFL career.

While O'Brien and his fellow Magpie backmen will try to make Jack Watts' senior debut as miserable as possible, he says the Melbourne teenager clearly boasts impressive potential.

Watts, the No.1 pick in last November's national draft, will be the centre of attention when the two teams meet in their annual Queens' Birthday clash on Monday at the MCG.

"I actually look forward to seeing him out there, because from all reports he's going to be a great player," O'Brien said.

"I feel privileged to be playing in the first game he plays - good luck to him, I wish him all the best."

Although O'Brien is curious to see what all the fuss is about surrounding Watts, he is far more determined that Collingwood maintain their mid-season momentum.

They have beaten West Coast and Port Adelaide in the last fortnight and will start favourites against the last-placed Demons.

"Every win generates belief, but if you can get that momentum of belief, that's when great things are achieved," he said.

Collingwood smashed Melbourne by 53 points in round two, but O'Brien said the young Demons are on the verge of some big upsets.

"It's only a matter of time before they put in a four-quarter performance," he said.

"I suppose this is going to be their biggest game of the year, they're going to be very keen to sustain that pressure and intensity that they've shown in glimpses and even for three quarters in games.

"We played them (in round two), but they've got another nine games under their belt and it's going to be a different game.

"We never take matches lightly, but this one in particular we know we're going to have to be on our game and continue playing the way we've shown in the last couple of weeks."

The two sides have boosted their attacks for this game, with the Demons recalling Russell Robertson as well as promoting Watts.

Collingwood bring back Travis Cloke, while Paul Medhurst is listed as an emergency.

Whatever forward structure Melbourne throw at O'Brien and the rest of the Collingwood defence, he is confident they can cope.

In the past, O'Brien has had to play on key forwards such as Brendan Fevola and the experience has made him much more versatile.

Collingwood have lost Shane Wakelin through retirement, but Simon Prestigiacomo is back and Nathan Brown continues to develop, meaning O'Brien can play on forwards more his size.

"A modern-day defender knows he can play on anyone, at any stage," O'Brien said.

"You look at Geelong - they don't care which forwards (play).

"There are so many changes and swaps - I remember Marty Clarke having to run with Dean Cox for a few minutes before we could get someone to swap over.

"My role certainly has changed, as it's been for most of the players."

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