Watson back at “old stomping ground”

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Carlton’s Head of Development Shane Watson will take on a big role at his former club. (PHOTO CREDIT: Northern Blues Football Club)

“This is my old stomping ground. I’m extremely passionate about this club and what it stands for, the ants’ spirit.”

It’s clear for all to see that Shane Watson is looking forward to his hands-on approach at the Northern Blues.

Given the nickname ‘Laurie’ from those on the training track for his 2003 best-and-fairest win, a change in position will see Watson take on a bigger role at his former club.

READ MORE: Carlton’s coaching structure finalised

Carlton’s newest Head of Development, Watson outlined his responsibilities in the VFL program for the 2018 season.

“I’ll be defensive line coach on match-days, and throughout the week Head of Development at Carlton with a particular focus on the first and second-year players,” Watson said.

“I’m really pleased that I’m able to coach a line at the Northern Blues.”

With reduced numbers among the group, Watson said he and his fellow coaches had been impressed by the early signs.

In particular, he singled out the eagerness from the playing group to learn and grow, displaying an intensity from the opening night of training.

“It’s going really well, even from the first to second week we’re noticing improvement,” Watson said.

“There’s been a few tweaks to the language we’re using and there’s a lot of new faces – everyone’s looking for that spot on the list.

“With a smaller squad, everyone’s starting to pick things up which is great. There’s a genuine enthusiasm and energy among the whole group.”

As the club’s new members begin putting faces to the names, Watson stressed the importance of a united approach.

Just a month remains before the Blues break for Christmas: the assistant coach said things would continue to heat up until then.

“The difficulty with the skill component is understanding our game style which the players are picking up on, and it’ll definitely ramp up heading into Christmas,” Watson said.

“There are guys like John Rafferty who have been really good at building relationships and picking the coaches’ brains for things he can work on and improve.

“We’ve got to plow through this stage because once you come back after Christmas and matches are at the end of the tunnel, that brings its own energy.”

The one-time club champion said the goal for 2018 was simple: to get the Northern Blues “back to where it should be”.

“Hopefully a big season for the club is in store, the expectation is finals,” Watson said.

“We just missed out on percentage in the season just gone, and we had a number of games where we had the opportunity to win and didn’t.

“That’ll be a big focus, when those moments occur in-game: hopefully we can see then that we’ve done the training and our understanding is spot on for when the time comes.”