In a game that’s often accused of giving second (and third, fourth, fifth…) chances to the wrong people, it warms my cold, cynical heart to see Jarrod Mullen back playing rugby league.
Connor Watson has set a goal to be Newcastle’s lock forward. Coming to Newcastle in 2018 and set to be their five-eighth, Watson has played all over the park since then.
His versatility as a utility is very handy but has led to some inconsistency for him to nail down a spot. There’s an advantage and disadvantage of being a utility for reasons such as this.
However, I personally think as a 13, he’s an extra playmaker on the field and it’s his spot to own. Instead of the big, prop-sized 13s we mostly see, he brings a playmaking X-Factor to it.
Victor Radley and Brandon Smith are two prime examples to say and I won’t look past what I saw from Watson when he came off the bench as a lock this season.
In the past, I have even seen some playmakers play lock forward such as Brad Fittler, Craig Wing and Phil Blake.
Fun fact, Paul Gallen played as a five-eighth in his juniors as did another current second rower in Lachlan Fitzgibbon. Call me nuts but if I had a NSW Dream Team, Brad Fittler would be my lock forward and there’s no way I’ll look past Brett Kenny for the NSW number 6.
In some games I saw in 2019 Connor Watson played fullback. I think the role suited him well but I knew he wouldn’t take the number 1 jersey from Kalyn Ponga.
His quick running game from the hooker role was very effective in a vast majority of 2019 but with Jayden Brailey coming in 2020, it seems like he had lost his spot.
His role off the bench as a lock forward was very effective but it only was for a limited time. I believe he could even be an 80-minute playmaking lock forward. It’s commonly known the spine is fullback, five-eighth, halfback and hooker.
I’m not saying we should add lock into the spine but with the way the game has changing, the playmaking lock forward role is becoming more common so I actually think it’s more an overlooked contribution to the spine like how the drummer is commonly an overlooked member of the band.
As a playmaking lock, Watson’s versatility can be used to his fullest extent and he will be less a lock and more so an attacking fullback/five-eighth combination which can be a massive difference maker.
What do you Roarers think of this shift?