Local draft pick heads to Hawthorn

Nick Watson was selected by Hawthorn Football Club in the 2023 AFL draft at pick number five. Picture: HAWTHORN FOOTBALL CLUB.

A young footballer who hails from the outer east has been drafted by Hawthorn Football Club in a top five pick.

The former East Ringwood and Montrose junior, Nick Watson, was selected to play as a forward in round one of the draft on Monday 20 November.

Snapping up the self confessed “energiser bunny”, Watson is known as The Wizard for his ability to amazing things in attack and was noted as one of the “most exciting prospects in this year’s draft” by Hawthorn.

Using the club’s first pick to grab Watson in pick number five, the new recruit said there were a lot of nerves heading into draft night.

“I was tearing up a bit to be honest but I’m keen to get into it now,” he said in a post draft interview.

Coming in at only 170cm in height, doubts about Watson’s draft potential always hung over him but he was proud to prove the critics wrong.

“Growing up always knowing I was going to be that smaller player, you cop a fair bit with my height so I’m just so happy,” he said.

“When I was around 14 or 15, obviously I knew I was going to be a small player and I had a lot of people saying I was going to be too small to play AFL,“ Watson told reporters on Monday night.

List manager Mark McKenzie said on draft night that getting Watson into the club “was a great outcome for the footy club”.

“[Watson] is small in size but he makes it work. He’s been making it work for a long time now and the last two years have been fantastic mainly in that small forward position,” he said.

“But he’s been able to come up the ground a bit this year as a high half forward or even on the wing but really he’s an elite small forward and that’s what we want to bring into our footy club.”

As the leading goal-kicker at this year’s AFL Under-18 Championships, he has been tipped to join the likes of small forward greats including Luke Breust and Eddie Betts.

The 18-year-old booted 14 goals for Vic Metro this year to earn an All Australian selection.

“I trained with Hawthorn during the pre-season and worked with Luke Breust and Dylan Moore,” Watson told AFL.com.au.

“Having Luke Breust there, who has kicked 500-plus goals, will be unreal to learn from. I’d love to follow in his footsteps.“

He’ll be on to watch as Hawthorn moves into its third year under coach Sam Mitchell.