Saints skipper’s nod to Nicky Winmar

And the fact she’ll be running around on Sunday wearing the No. 7 jumper has extra significance:  one of her childhood favourites, the great Nicky Winmar, lighting up Moorabbin in that number in the late `80s and early `90s.

“I grew up in Berwick, so went down to Waverley a lot as a kid and loved watching Nathan Burke run around,” Watt told The Sunday Age.

“And the fact I’ve got No. 7 on my jumper, I actually loved Nicky Winmar as a kid, and then obviously Lenny Hayes in the No. 7. So it’s all pretty surreal when you get to the club and you see all the men’s players around now, and there’s just so much history at Moorabbin. And it’s such a special place to be.”

Even more of a coincidence is the fact the Bulldogs will on Sunday be coached by Burke, who dealt closely with Watt in recent years when working with the Saints’ VFLW side.

St Kilda great Nicky Winmar at Moorabbin in 1991Credit:Fairfax Media

“We had a fair bit to do with Burkey when he was with us for the VFL season. He’s just obviously a fantastic guy and are really happy that he got the job at the Doggies. Of course we miss him but it’ll be an all-out war with him on Sunday.”

Like most players in the semi-professional AFLW, Watt leads a double life. Not only is she a footballer, she also works full-time in the human resources team at KPMG, where she’s been for nine years. It means she can be stretched this time of the year.

“I’m quite lucky in my role that I just need to get it done,” Watt said. “And that might mean logging on a bit later at night. But in terms of giving me flexibility to leave and get to training on time, and just understanding the nature of what I’m doing and that I might be coming into the office with a bit of a limp or feeling a bit under the weather, they’re really supportive.”

While Watt doesn’t have the experience playing football of some of her teammates and opponents, she has plenty of perspective.

“For me it’s just been learning off everyone and just sort of seeing how the younger girls that have grown up playing footy have gone about it and what they bring on-field.

“And for me my focus has been, what can I do to better the girls around me off-field as well.

“It’s teaching the girls that it’s OK to have balance. For me, working is really important, just given we’re not quite there yet in terms of being a full-time program. To have a background and to upskill in other things is really important. A lot, too, is mental preparation; how you cope with everything that’s going on around you.”

While the league has expanded from eight to 14 teams inside four years, the growing phase is not done yet. The four remaining clubs without AFLW sides – Essendon, Hawthorn, Sydney and Port Adelaide – are all eagerly awaiting their turn to join, although the AFL is yet to formalise plans for when those sides will enter the league.

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