When he's talking about rugby league, Mick Watton is all business. But when the subject switches to his son, he's all love.
"Without a doubt, my son," Watton said when asked what his greatest achievement was. "He's my No. 1."
Brooklyn is in year 7 at Farrer. Like his old man, the 12-year-old is a footballer.
Watton had never thought he would enjoy watching junior rugby league so much. But seeing his boy "flourishing" while "doing his thing" on a footy field had brought him immense pleasure.
Watton - reappointed as Moree captain-coach after leading the side to a Group 4 grand final loss to Norths in August - is engaged to Codie Ryan, who has two children, Grace and Archie. "Complete family man," he said. "I love the family."
When Watton was four years older than Brooklyn, he made his first-grade debut while playing for his hometown Coonabarabran Unicorns.
It's just always been in my DNA.
More than two decades later, the well-travelled playmaker is one of Group 4's fittest players. But, with his 39th birthday approaching, he is also one of the competition's oldest.
"It's just always been in my DNA," he said of footy. "It's quite scary, really, to transition from footy into something [else]. I mean, I've got meaningful work, and I have had for a long period of time.
"But when something has been in your blood, and a part of your life for a long, long time and you know it's coming to an end, it gets quite scary."
Watton, who works with Indigenous youths through the Clontarf Foundation, would probably relish the chance to have a word to his younger self. He believes he had the ability to play footy at a higher level, but lacked the dedication to do so.
"I had a few opportunities in Sydney with the St George Dragons [Jersey Flegg], and probably didn't take them to the best of my ability, probably didn't train hard enough. I train harder now than I did back then."
And it's that personal evolution that Watton regards as his most important life lesson.
"When you're young, you don't really think too much - it's all bull at gate. You think you know all the answers." he said.
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