Jake Waterman will be striving for consistency in 2020 as he attempts to nail down a spot in West Coast’s best 22.
Waterman has shown plenty of promise during his young career, making 29 senior appearances – including 13 last season - and booting 28 goals across his first two campaigns.
The next step for the hard-working 21-year-old forward is to cement himself as an AFL regular.
“The season last year (2019) started a bit iffy for me,” Waterman told 6PR.
“I did my ankle during pre-season when I was going alright, and then at the start of the year I just couldn’t get any rhythm going and then found myself playing a fair bit of WAFL footy.
“Towards the end of the year I was able to hold down a spot and get a bit of consistency, which is what I need to keep doing.
“I haven’t been a consistent player for the first year-and-a-bit of my career.
“I believe that I can be in the best 22 and I think my performances at the back end of the year showed that.”
Called into the seniors after prolific WAFL form (28 goals in eight games), Waterman grabbed his chance on the run home and was dangerous in attack for Adam Simpson’s side.
He booted 11.3 in the last eight games, including an impressive 16-disposal, 10-mark and two-goal finals debut against Essendon.
“I spoke to Simmo briefly at the back end of last year and I think the key is for me to play a bit closer to goals this year,” Waterman said.
“I’ve been a bit higher up the ground the last couple of years connecting a bit, but I think if I can spend some longer periods of time closer to goals it will give me opportunities to hit the scoreboard a little bit more and then I can pinch-hit going up the ground a little bit.
“As far as I’m concerned, if there’s a role for me in the team, whatever it is, I’ll take it and hopefully be in the 22.”
The Eagles’ future tall forward stocks appear in safe hands, with Oscar Allen also developing alongside stars Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling last season.
Promising big man Jarrod Brander (three games) is another exciting prospect and returned to pre-season training at Mineral Resources Park in excellent condition.
“He was probably looking the best on the track, really, (on Monday),” Waterman said of Brander.
“He’s had a fair bit of time in the weights room and he’s such a big boy and I don’t think he’s played as much AFL footy as what he’d like to, but I think he’s going to burst onto the scene.
“There’s a lot of competition for spots and we’ve got JK and JD up forward, so a few of us boys have had to bide our time a little bit.
“But Jarrod’s looking unreal at the moment, he’s fit and firing, so hopefully he stays that way and he’ll get a few games.”