NICK Watson was told he was going to be too short to be drafted, but with AFL games record-holder Brent Harvey in his corner, the 170cm small forward chose not to listen to the noise.
By the time Hawthorn used pick No.5 on the East Ringwood product in Monday night's AFL Draft, the noise surrounding the pocket rocket had well and truly escalated after Watson produced another outstanding season in 2023, kicking more than 70 goals across a campaign where he starred for Vic Metro, the Eastern Ranges and Caulfield Grammar.
It was only a few years ago that many feared his height would count against him. But when Watson played alongside Cooper Harvey for Victoria in the under-15 carnival in Tasmania, he developed a relationship with the North Melbourne champion.
Harvey was originally selected at pick No.47 in 1995 while standing at just 168cm, before playing 432 games for the Kangaroos, where he won five best and fairest awards, four All-Australian selections and two premierships.
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"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.
"It gets in your head a bit, especially when you don't know where you're going to end up. But having Brent Harvey in my ear was great. He has been a great mentor for me."
Now Watson will be going to work with not only one of the greatest small forwards to ever play the game in three-time premiership player Luke Breust, but also bombshell off-season signing Jack Ginnivan.
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"I'm a Pies man, so I'm really keen to play with 'Ginni'," Watson said.
"I trained with Hawthorn during the pre-season and worked with Luke Breust and Dylan Moore.
"Having Luke Breust there, who has kicked 500-plus goals, will be unreal to learn from. I'd love to follow in his footsteps."
Much like Ginnivan, Watson plays a brand of football that always attracts attention, both from opposition players and from those sitting on the other side of the fence. That won't change at the next level.
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"That's the player I am, I’m not going to change a thing," he said.
"I'm an energiser bunny on the field and off the field, too. I thrive off it (opposition attention), so I hope it comes to AFL level as well."
After landing two players in the first-round of last year's AFL Draft – Cam Mackenzie and Josh Weddle – Hawthorn selected father-son prospect Will McCabe at pick No.19 after considering two other key defenders – Dan Curtin and Connor O’Sullivan with the club's first pick.
The 197cm key defender from Central district is the son of current Hawks football director, Luke McCabe, who played 137 games in brown and gold.