PORT Adelaide premiership coach Mark Williams is warning Power recruit Jack Watts there is no escaping intense expectations by leaving Melbourne for South Australia.
Williams notes the attention Watts copped as a Demon — after being the No. 1 draft pick in 2008 — will not subside as a high-profile recruit at Port Adelaide.
“It is going to be hard for him to miss the spotlight with the (AFL media) reporting that goes on there (in Adelaide),” Williams said on Melbourne radio SEN while commenting on the intense scrutiny in the SA-based AFL teams, in particular with The Advertiser.
“So he better be ready to deliver. I’m looking forward to Jack taking that on.”
Williams, the Power’s longest-serving coach from 1999-2008, reflected on his scouting of Watts as the Victorian teenager entered the 2008 AFL draft pool.
The 2004 AFL premiership coach labelled Watts as “nice”.
“A wonderful person,” Williams said.
“Nice … too nice,” added Williams, drawing a direct comparison between Watts and St Kilda-North Melbourne veteran Nick Dal Santo.
“(Maybe) getting away from his support network will be good for him,” said Williams, suggesting the best part of Watts’ move to Alberton goes beyond escaping the harsh critics and demanding expectations at Melbourne.
Williams noted more damage to Watts’ ambitions as an AFL footballer may have been created in the comfort zone of his family and friends.
Watts, 26, was one of Port Adelaide’s three major gains in the recently closed AFL trade period. He joins free agents, midfielder Tom Rockliff (Brisbane) and midfielder-forward Steven Motlop (Geelong), in moving to Alberton — at the cost of just a second-round draft pick.
Watts moved to the Power after 153 games at Melbourne with his two-year contract with the Demons converted to a three-season deal at Port Adelaide.
Watts currently is in the Americas on an end-of-season trip that begins in Central America and ends in Montreal next week.
On securing his trade to Port Adelaide — after considering his options with Geelong and Sydney — Watts noted he had a better chance to fulfil his ambitions by not carrying the high expectations he had on his shoulders at Melbourne.
Well that was one helluva ride. I will miss my boys, I'll miss my club, and I'll miss looking up into that members stand and admiring the support I have been lucky enough to receive over 9 incredible years. I've always tried to be kind and inclusive to anyone I come across in life and seeing the heartfelt messages from friends, family and especially the MFC faithful over the last few weeks has simply been overwhelming. It's goodbye for now and thank you 🔴🔵
“(Coach) Ken Hinkley has a realistic view,” Watts told The Advertiser of Port Adelaide’s demands. “He is clear on what I can do … and what he wants me to do. He is not expecting me to kick 80 goals a season.
“Ken wants me to use my strengths — my ball use, connecting from half-back to the midfield and connecting with the big boys in attack.
“I am joining a football club that has a supportive, caring environment … and a fierce desire to win. Where I am in my career, they are the two things I am looking for.”
Williams endorsed Motlop’s move to Alberton as a bonus for Power key forward Charlie Dixon. But while Williams noted Motlop will ease the pressure on Dixon’s delivering a large percentage of Port Adelaide’s core, there was the dig that the Power needed to find someone to teach Dixon to improve his goalkicking accuracy.
Dixon has kicked 30.16 (65 per cent accuracy) and 49.30 (62 per cent) in his two seasons at Port Adelaide since moving to the Power from Gold Coast.