McCartney backs Watts for long term run - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

McCartney backs Watts for long term run

By Roger Vaughan 01/07/2009 05:34:31 PM Comments (0)

AFL development coach Jason McCartney has backed Melbourne's No.1 draft pick Jack Watts, saying he has been unfairly criticised so early in his career.

The newly-appointed Australian Institute of Sport coach is confident the Demons made the right choice in Watts, who has struggled in his first three senior games.

Asked if the Year 12 student would prove a good long-term pick, McCartney replied: "Most definitely - without doubt.

"He's a part-time footballer at the moment, he's not even training full-time at Melbourne, he's still playing some school footy.

"He's got all the attributes you need, he's got fantastic hands, great athleticism, he brings some tremendous traits across from basketball.

"He was run down by (Essendon's) Alwyn Davey the other night - he's not going to be the first and last to be run down by Alwyn Davey.

"The one thing I like about Jack, he's got great composure."

McCartney added it was unfair to compare Watts to two other players also chosen in the top 10 at last year's national draft, Nic Naitanui and Daniel Rich - both of whom played senior football in the WAFL.

Naitanui, the No.2 pick, has created plenty of excitement at West Coast, while Rich at No.7 has starred for Brisbane.

"Jack Watts has copped a bit of heat, I reckon unnecessarily - you can't compare him to Nic Naitanui or Daniel Rich," McCartney said.

"Jack Watts is a schoolboy who has played four TAC Cup games, he's played in the championships, he's come from basketball."

McCartney was speaking on the last day of the national under-18 championships, where this year's top draftees are playing.

He disagrees with concerns that this year's talent pool is not as strong as previous editions.

"Through what I've seen at the under-18 championships and what I've worked with the last couple of years, I think this draft will be comparable to any other," he said.

"Probably guys who have been first-round rookie choices that have then got to a club and come on really quickly, they now become your third- and fourth-round choices.

"So it opens up another opportunity for other players underneath.

"There's plenty to work with if you're an AFL club recruiter going into this year's draft."

There are two key differences - the draft age has been moved back four months, meaning Watts would have been ineligible last year.

Also, the new Gold Coast franchise can pre-select 12 17-year-olds ahead of the national draft, with young Victorian star Josh Toy certain to be among them.

McCartney agreed Tom Scully (Victoria), Jack Trengove (South Australia), John Butcher (Victoria) and Anthony Morabito (WA) are all likely to find clubs in the top 10 draft selections.

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