How Watson can be the Craig Wing of the modern era

Connor Watson may be the victim of his own versatility but there could be a silver lining according to True Blue Jamie Soward. 

Watson started the 2019 season with a firm grip on the Newcastle Knights No.1 jersey but with Kalyn Ponga’s five-eighth experiment coming to an end, he may now partner Mitchell Pearce in the halves when he returns from injury.

But Soward believes his explosiveness off the interchange bench, along with his versatility, could see the 22-year-old emerge as the new ‘Craig Wing of the modern era’.

“He is definitely NRL quality but I think there is a little bit of a log jam there at the Knights between him and Kurt Mann,” Soward told NSWRL.com.au.

“But Connor Watson could be the Craig Wing of the modern era (because) he can come and play halfback, five-eighth or fullback.

"He can even play on the wing (because) of his speed and skill, so it will be interesting to see.

"It will be interesting to see what Nathan Brown does."

Watson burst on to the NRL in 2016 as a running five-eighth at the Roosters but the arrival of Luke Keary in the following year saw him used as their utility option.

His decision to join the Knights gave him an ideal opportunity to cement a position in the starting 13 but his seamless transition as a fullback, five-eighth or hooker has Brown exploiting his versatility. 

Wing himself believes there’s been a significant change in the way utility players have been used in recent years, most notably with coaches opting to play with four forwards on the interchange bench.

The rise of Watson, however, may see the return of the ‘super-sub’ in the near future.   

“One other advantage to playing multiple positions, especially earlier in your career, is that it helps you develop an understanding of what other players in your team want from you in both attack and defence,’ Wing told NRL.com.

“There is never a wasted moment as a utility because you're always learning something and building a skill set which is unmatched by your teammates and which will always come in handy regardless of what position you decide to play.”