Despite having Red, Black, and White, blood flowing through her veins, Australian Football is a relatively new pursuit for Rhiannon Watt. After a lifetime supporting the Saints, and a career in volleyball that saw her represent Australia, she made the switch to football to become a member of the inaugural Southern Saints VFLW team in 2018.
The 184cm Watt made an immediate impact in the Ruck at Moorabbin. She would go on to share the Best & Fairest with Alison Drennan in her first season. Her performances also caught the eye of Carlton who drafted her for the 2019 AFLW Season. Blues coach Daniel Harford was effusive upon adding her to his squad. “Rhiannon had an exceptional year for the Southern Saints and showcased what she can bring to any ruck division,” Harford said. “She’s a smart footballer and runs hard both ways which is a testament to her work ethic and athletic ability.”
The Blues would go on and play off in the AFLW Grand Final in 2019. Watt was able to break into the side to play two games through the season. Her time at Ikon Park is one the 32-year-old speaks fondly of. “It was a pretty incredible experience [at Carlton]. She told saints.com.au in April 2019. “It was unreal to play at IKON Park in front of more than 5,000 people.” The spirit in the dressing room was also something that had an impact on her. “It was a real team environment. That’s something that I pride myself on and I‘m hoping I can bring that back to the Saints.”
As enjoyable and invaluable as her time at Carlton might have been, it is not quite the same as being part of the Saints 2020 AFLW campaign. “It feels great to be home,” Watt told saints.com.au in April 2019. “To be back here with all the girls I played with in my first year is so exciting and I can’t wait to get back to them.
She elaborated further on what it means to be at St Kilda after being appointed Captain in January 2020. “Every time you walk in through RSEA Park and you see the faces on the wall, it’s really an eye-opener to how much history belongs to this club,” Watt said.
I think the pride we feel when we pull on the Saints jumper, you know being a St Kilda supporter since I was really young, it’s just something that’s really exciting for me.”Rhiannon Watt
Inaugural St Kilda AFLW Coach Peta Searle spoke to saints.com.au about the qualities that made Watt such a valuable member of her squad. “Rhiannon is such an important person when I think about factors that will build the culture of this team,” Searle said. “She’s shown that she’s talented on field, and her year in the AFLW competition will only have added to that, but her team spirit and the importance she places on bringing up those around her is such an asset.
“We’re really glad to have her back at the Saints.”
When announcing Watt as co-captain with Kate Shierlaw and Cat Phillips, Searle again made mention of her team spirit. “Rhiannon is a natural ‘people person’. Her emotional intelligence is off the charts and her ability to unite the group and make everyone feel like they belong is second to none.”
Leading a new team in a competition against more settled opposition with a number of seasons to develop their structures and combinations, Watt’s team building and AFLW experience will be priceless. It is for this reason that she will live the dream of every Saints fan and captain the team she loves in 2020.
As part of the AFLW Captain’s day the Herald Sun asked the leader of each team a number of rapid fire questions. Here are Watt’s responses.
DO YOU HAVE ANY SUPERSTITIONS?
I don’t have any. I just have to make sure that my dog Judy – a French Bulldog – gives me a kiss before I go to the game.
WHO IS THE COACH’S PET?
Tilly Lucas-Rodd. She answers all the questions in the team meeting.
WHO IS THE TEAM DJ?
Kate McCarthy. She’s always on the iPad in the gym putting the tunes on, but we trust her. She does a good job.
WHAT ARE YOU WATCHING ON NETFLIX AT THE MOMENT?
I’m about to watch the Taylor Swift thing, because everyone has been talking about it. I’ve actually started Grey’s Anatomy again on Stan, which is overly time-consuming.
WHAT’S THE FIRST THING YOU PACK IN YOUR FOOTY BAG?
Boots. Just to be safe. All the other stuff you can get away with, but if you don’t have boots, you’re in trouble.