HAVING enjoyed his best performance of the season, Matthew Cottrell is “one to watch” in 2019’s final month.
The first-year Blue collected 22 disposals and 13 marks in the Northern Blues’ resounding 75-point victory over North Melbourne on the weekend.
The youngster has enjoyed a change in role in recent weeks, featuring heavily across half back after predominantly playing on the wing.
Speaking on the latest edition of Carlton Coaches’ Corner, development coach Shane Watson said Cottrell was developing by the week in his new position.
“We’ve moved him to the half-back line and he’s really thriving in that position, offering rebound and his kicking while using his pace,” Watson said.
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“He might be one to watch as we enter the back-end of the season.
“For someone in his first year and three weeks into his new position, it was really pleasing.”
After showing his potential in previous matches against Coburg and Footscray, it was undeniably Cottrell’s best performance of the campaign. It was a delayed start to life in Blue, with a knee injury delaying his start to the VFL year.
However, Watson believes Cottrell has shown what he’s capable of when backing in his instinct and talent.
“His biggest strengths were - as a defender - you’ve obviously got to defend your opponent first, and he did that well,” he said.
“Once we won the ball back, he really got involved in offence and created opportunities for our forwards. He’s really quick, so his run-and-carry with the ball was very important.
“He’s got a really good step, so whether he’s inside the contest or outside on the wing receiving the ball, he can bring both parts to his game.”
However, as mentioned with fellow young defender Ben Silvagni last weekend, Watson believed that Cottrell would spend the last month of his debut year in the new role.
While having the ability to play elsewhere, Watson said it was important for emerging players to lock down one position.
“Seeing that he’s done such a good job across half back, we’ll probably keep him going there,” he said.
“We might throw him up to the wing or on-ball occasionally to use his speed, but… you like to lock first-year players in one position.
“You let them develop and grow in that position before you throw them around too much: a running half back, a rebounding defender is what we’re going to see from him.”
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