By William Hogan
Source: Robert Prezioso/Getty Images AsiaPac
The football career of Jack Watts has always been a fascinating one to follow. Touted as the “saviour of the Melbourne Football Club” by the media and the club itself immediately put Watts on a pedestal of judgement and scrutiny.
Watts comes under constant criticism from journalists and fans about not living up to his potential and also faces a torrent of abuse and streams of satire from fans on social media.
Does a 24-year-old man deserve this sort of attention?
Does it concern Jack Watts?
Not in the slightest.
Six years on from his famous debut against Collingwood when the whole footballing community eagerly awaited Melbourne’s number one draft pick to unveil his skills, Watts remains content and upbeat about the future of the club as well as his career.
One week out from a round one match up against Gary Ablett and his vastly improving Gold Coast Suns, Watts sat down with me on his 24th birthday by the way to discuss his time at the Demons, his future and life outside the football bubble.
In 2008, Watts walked into the Melbourne Football Club as a skinny schoolboy with no knowledge of what it would be like to be a professional footballer. The boy from Brighton Grammar was used to the same size domination in the under 18s competition but coming up against the brute force of professional athletes was a whole different ball game.
Watts says he did feel a huge amount of pressure on his shoulders and that he was coming up against 25-year-old men playing for their careers and lives.
“Footy is a dog eat dog sort of world,” he says.
The 2015 Watts on the other hand towers over everyone around him looking nearly unrecognisable to those who witnessed his debut season.
Organisation has been the key for the Melbourne utility who admits that has been a weakness of his in the past.
“I’ve started to look a week or two ahead and plan my training and free time.”
Watts is obviously aware of the judgement he receives after every target he misses or every time he doesn’t take the game on with his lightning pace but tries not to read too much into it. He says he never tries to let the excitement and expectation of being a number one draft pick get to his head but believes it has affected his growth.
“The whole perception of me is wrong, it definitely has stunted what I have been able to do.”
The Melbourne utility cares little for what is said about him and his teammates in the media. He says it just doesn’t help in anyway to hear the thoughts of a journalist trying to create a newsworthy story.
“A story could say something that isn’t true which brings you down or something is said that pumps you up more than you need and you get ahead of yourself.”
This philosophy signifies how humble and wiser he has become in his latter years with the Demons. The speculation of him leaving Melbourne was just speculation, a relaxed Watts is finally satisfied with the continuity that Paul Roos and Peter Jackson provide.
“We know where the club is heading and the direction we are going.”
For a man who has had five coaches in six years, he remains composed like he does on field about his role at the club. Whatever past players and journalists say about Watts and how he should play, the 24-year-old is only worried about playing a pivotal role for his mates.
Watts says he isn’t concerned about being the saviour but is focused on helping his mates and remaining upbeat which shouldn’t be an issue for a genuine bloke that he is.
“For me it is all about my decision making, ball use, positivity and creating energy for the boys.”
Watts’ career is not even half completed, if it were a painting there would still be so much blank on the canvas to create art.