SOUTH-West footballers Daniel Watson and Haydn Drew were playing the waiting game.
The former Geelong Falcons and North Ballarat Rebels graduates arrived for pre-season training with Carlton’s VFL affiliate in November, trained three nights a week at Princes Park and impressed in practice matches.
With the VFL season fast-approaching, they wanted to know — had they made the made the cut?
Watson and Drew signed with the Northern Blues on Wednesday night.
“It was a relief, I can tell you. It was good to sign,” Watson said.
“They rang me before training and asked me to come to Preston, where the general manager’s office is, and they sat me down and told me the good news.
“When I got to training (coach) Luke Webster shook my hand and said ‘well done’. It was a good night.”
Watson has played senior football for Cobden and was a member of its ‘Baby Bombers’ Hampden league grand final side last year.
The midfielder-cum-defender said his debut VFL season was about establishing himself in the Northern Blues’ development side.
The development league was previously known as the reserves and is used as a stepping stone for promising players, many of whom are just out of the TAC Cup system.
“When you say reserves, a lot of people think you are playing reserves, but it is very competitive and a very good league to be a part of,” Watson said.
“I want to go out and give my best. I am rapt to be a part of it.
“I will try and play as 23rd man (in the seniors) if I manage to get a game but my focus is on getting the structures right and set-ups.
“With the Falcons it was totally different and now it’s about everyone playing their role.
“If you don’t, it will break everyone else down down the field.”
Watson has had a flawless pre-season.
He played in the Northern Blues’ intra-club game and in practice matches against Bendigo Gold and Box Hill Hawks.
“Two weeks ago I was going to play in the development league but a senior bloke got tonsillitis and I got to play in the seniors,” he said.
“It was a great experience. We won by 30 points against Bendigo.
“I didn’t play too bad but it was more about experience against bigger bodies.
“Last week against Box Hill was a six-quarter game.
“They are a class outfit. They had their full team in and beat us convincingly.”
Drew could have a delayed start to the season.
The defender injured his hamstring almost two weeks ago.
“It’s a very slight strain. I’m on the mend,” Drew said.
“At the moment I am in rehab and seeing the physio a fair bit.
“Hopefully I will be back into full-time training at the end of next week or the week after.”
Drew said he was told he’d made the Blues’ squad at training.
“I was pretty rapt to get on the list,” he said.
“It’s been a long pre-season and I have really enjoyed it.
“I was really happy to get on the list. My goal is to play consistent footy.”