Balgo boy flies high with Eagles

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West Coast Eagle Francis Watson after the round 18 match on Sunday.
Camera IconWest Coast Eagle Francis Watson after the round 18 match on Sunday. Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images

Kimberley local Francis Watson made his long-awaited AFL debut on Sunday, as a last-minute replacement for the West Coast Eagles in their win over Melbourne.

Hailing from the tiny Aboriginal community of Balgo, 250km south of Halls Creek, Watson signed with the Eagles in 2017, but an injury setback prevented him from banging down the selection door.

The exciting defender, pictured, was named as an emergency for the side’s clash with the Demons in Alice Springs on Sunday and was announced to replace skipper Shannon Hurn at the eleventh hour.

He managed 14 disposals at 86 per cent efficiency in his opener.

Speaking to media after the game, coach Adam Simpson said he was proud of Watson, who “played his part and looked pretty sharp.”

Simpson said he was thrilled the side had five Aboriginal players wearing their indigenous jumpers in the Northern Territory, an equal club record. The Eagles recorded a 14.7 (91) to 11.12 (78) win over Melbourne.

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