Watts not longer an easy target - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Watts not longer an easy target

Roger Vaughan 12/06/2011 03:35:34 PM Comments (0)

Every time Jack Watts renews acquaintances with Collingwood's ruthless defence, it is a straightforward measure of how far he has come in the AFL.

The Melbourne key forward will go into the annual Queen's Birthday clash against the Magpies on Monday with growing form and confidence.

Three years ago, the 2008 No.1 draft pick made his senior debut in this match and the Collingwood defenders were waiting for him.

They made a point of singling him out for some fierce physical pressure, but these days Watts is not such an easy target.

"Everyone remembers the first touch he got, he was gang tackled by two or three Collingwood players," said Melbourne's forward coach Josh Mahoney.

"It's going to be a really good measurement to see how far his improvement has come and he's going into this game with good confidence, he's in good form.

"He's itching to get out there and play on Monday."

Mahoney said the 20-year-old was working out how best to utilise his undoubted football talents.

At stages this year, the Demons have played Watts across half-back, partly to put the ball in his hands as often as possible, and Mahoney said that had also helped his development as a key forward.

"What we're seeing is Jack is slowly working out what his major attributes are at AFL level," Mahoney said.

"He has a terrific workrate, he has great speed and we're seeing him use those attributes to get the footy.

"But also when he gets the footy, he's using his speed to get away and use the ball well.

"He's slowly figuring out where he sits in the AFL and he's gaining more and more confidence each week."

Melbourne's forwards worked well together a week ago when they overcame Essendon in the second half for a badly-needed win.

While captain Brad Green led the way with four goals, Mahoney said the most pleasing aspect of their attack was younger players such as Watts and Liam Jurrah stood up under pressure.

The Melbourne attack will certainly come under pressure again on Monday against arguably the best defensive unit in the league.

It is one part of Collingwood's team that has not been weakened by injuries or suspensions.

While the 'Pies will be without top midfielders such as Dane Swan and Dale Thomas, Mahoney said the backline would test his players thoroughly.

"Their defence has really been their strength, their ability to play as a defensive unit is very strong and the way they help each other out, it's very difficult to create one-on-ones against their backline," Mahoney said.

"They're very good at helping each other and out-numbering and now they've played a lot of footy together, so they have a lot of confidence in their positioning.

"Definitely part of the way we have to try to beat them is by getting through that strong defence."

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