NICK Watson has heard the doubts. At one stage, he might have had his own.
Watson has always been a smaller player, but some have questioned whether he would be too small to make it to the AFL. His answer has always been in performance: by kicking hauls of goals, flying for marks, using the ball with sharpness and poise and dominating at ground level.
"When I was about 15 I thought I was probably getting too small and I had plenty of people saying I was way too small and there's still people saying now I'm way too small to play AFL," Watson told AFL.com.au's Gettable.
"I've just always thought you're never too small and you show them out on the footy field what you can do. The footy does the talking at the end of the day. There's been heaps of doubters. I don't really listen to them."
Watson is one of the most talented players in this year's draft pool, a dynamite small forward who dominated last year as a bottom-aged player for the Eastern Ranges and Vic Metro.
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He has his own heroes as a lively small forward – including Sydney star Tom Papley and Collingwood pair Jack Ginnivan and Jamie Elliott – but wants also to show the next generation that, at 170cm, size is no impediment.
"If I did get into the system I'd probably be one of the smallest in there besides Caleb Daniel. I might have him covered by 2cm but it's definitely one that I want to prove my case and especially to the younger generation as well to show that you're never too small to play AFL," Watson said.
Watson's wizardry saw him kick 18 goals from seven games in the under-18 competition last year for the Eastern Ranges, with the 18-year-old this season adding some flexibility to his game with time through the midfield and even across half-back. In his last game for the Ranges, Watson gathered 34 disposals, six marks and kicked 2.3.
"Last year was a bit different as I was more stuck down forward and I was loving it. It's a whole different year for me now playing that high half-forward role this year," he said.
"I've rarely been playing deep and obviously moving up the ground to half-back. It's a bit more serious this year because it's my draft year and last year was a bit more of a learning curve."
Part of the learning curve so far this year has included playing for the AFL Academy last month against Port Adelaide's SANFL side, when Watson gathered 17 disposals, four rebound 50s and a goal.
Recruiters have been keen to see Watson take his exploits further up the ground but also know he will enter the AFL as a lively, exciting, eye-catching small forward who celebrates his goals, tries special things and usually has them come off.
"I like to look at Papley, especially the way he goes about it and his goal celebrations as well. I [watch] all the smaller players and the way they go about it and they obviously have no issue playing the game," he said.
Gettable is the new trade, draft and free agency podcast on AFL.com.au, the AFL Live Official App, or wherever you get your podcasts. The latest episode is live now.