Ivan Cleary coy on Wests Tigers’ play for Connor Watson

WESTS Tigers coach Ivan Cleary has distanced himself from speculation the joint-venture club are closing in on the signature of Sydney Roosters utility Connor Watson.

Reports emerged this week that the Tigers met with Watson, who agreed to join the club from 2018 to play fullback on a deal worth close to $600,000 a year.

However, the Central Coast junior is contracted at the Roosters until the end of 2018 and is yet to receive a release.

Watson’s manager Steve Gillis told The Sunday Telegraph his client hadn’t made a decision on his future, with Newcastle also in the mix.

The Tigers remain in the box seat to secure Watson if the Roosters formally grant him a release in the coming weeks.

Cleary, though, remained coy about the potential acquisition of the Roosters utility when asked.

“He (Connor) is a good player,” Cleary said.

“We’ve met with quite a few players over the last three months. But I think it is best for all concerned to keep the recruitment things under wraps — it is a very sensitive arena.”

For Cleary and the Tigers, Sunday’s clash against Newcastle is more than just a regular-season match.

His side are currently behind the Knights in last position on for-and-against and need to win to allay fears of collecting the wooden spoon. Cleary believes avoiding this unwanted statistic will be enough motivation for his players to perform.

Cleary confirmed star James Tedesco won’t play against Newcastle on Sunday due to his ongoing ankle injury suffered in Origin II. Kevin Naiqama will be the fullback.