In all the talk surrounding City-Country it is easy to forget just how much the fixture means to some players.
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Dubbo product Connor Watson is one of those who will treasure the experience to run out at Mudgee this weekend.
The Sydney Roosters utility was named in Craig Fitzgibbon’s squad on Monday and could hardly contain his excitement.
The biggest reason for Watson’s excitement is the fact he gets to wear the maroon and gold jersey in front of his family and friends just s short drive from where he grew up.
Family is something which has been at the forefront of Watson’s mind in recent times after his cousin Parker passed away at Dubbo in early March.
Watson moved to the Central Coast from Dubbo when he was just five but he returned to his place of birth for Parker’s funeral and his cousin, who played rugby league locally himself, hasn’t been far from his mind in the weeks since.
“It’s been a pretty tough time for the family,” he said.
“I’ve been thinking about him every game so to play for him near home and near where he grew up is going to be massive.”
I’ve been thinking about him every game.- Connor Watson on his cousin Parker.
Watson also expects his grandparents, based at Dubbo, to make the trip over and that to will be special as they have never seen him play any of his 22 NRL matches live.
“It’s the last City-Country game and as a kid I used to watch the game and always wanted to play for Country so do it in the last one is a big opportunity and something special,” he said, before saying it was disappointing the fixture is coming to an end after Sunday.
“Definitely. It is massively (disappointing) but I’m honoured to get chosen and I can’t wait to play.”
The match has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons recently, with a number of clubs making players unavailable.
But none of that matters to Watson, who will start on the bench on Sunday.
Combined with his passion for the Country jersey the reigning Auckland Nines Player of the Tournament is keen to get more minutes under his belt after struggling for game time at the Roosters.
“It has been hard but I’m only young and I’ve got to bide my time,” he said.
“It’s been hard and being on the bench and not playing has been the hardest but as I said, I’m still young.”
While he hasn’t been playing as much as he did after breaking into the side midway through last season, Watson has been enjoying the Roosters’ results much more.
After finishing second from bottom last season the Roosters are currently fifth on the ladder and seemingly set for an assault on the finals.
But all that is on the back burner this week as Watson aims to ensure Country Rugby League headquarters finishes as the final resting place for the City-Country shield.
“That’s always the goal,” he said of winning on Sunday.
“Let’s bring it home for Country. Obviously it’s the last once so you want to win because you can’t play in it again.”
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