Watson sheds pounds to earn Phoenix contract

SAM WORTHINGTON
Last updated 17:51 05/02/2014
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STEP UP: Hamish Watson (centre) in action in 2012's Chatham Cup final against Central United.

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The Wellington Phoenix have signed Junior All Whites striker Hamish Watson for the remainder of the 2013-14 A-League season.

Watson had been a member of the Phoenix school of excellence as well as playing for Team Wellington but he was upgraded to a full contract today.

During pre-season, Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick told Watson that if he lost 10kg he might have a chance of earning a professional contract.

He lost 11 and was in tears today when Phoenix operations manager Shaun Gill called with the good news on the last day of the transfer window.

"My Dad Stu had just got home and when I got off the phone we were both jumping up and down round the kitchen," Watson said.

"It came right out of the blue and I didn't even know it was the last day of the window. Thinking back, what was I doing playing football at 101kg? Now I'm down to 90kg I feel so much better and am more mobile, fitter and stronger."

Merrick said Watson's attitude had been terrific.

"Hamish worked really hard to get his weight down and you have to give him credit. He kept at it when it would have been easy to give up," Merrick said.

"At Team Wellington he has been going well and came off the bench last week to score two goals in 12 minutes. We have wide players in Kenny Cunningham, Roy Krishna and Tyler Boyd, but needed cover for our central high strikers Jeremy Brockie and Stein Huysegems. We had a scare with Stein's calf last week and if one of the two strikers got injured we would have been a bit bare."

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