It took Jake Waterman one game to show his AFL potential.
As the son of former West Coast player Chris Waterman, while older brother Alec was trying to find his feet on the Eagles’ list, Jake had eyes on him from early days.
Given the chance to play his first WAFL League game, Waterman exploded onto the scene, kicking five goals on debut as Claremont rolled eventual premiers, Peel Thunder.
Future Sydney draft pick Darcy Cameron played alongside Waterman that day, booting three goals himself, and recalls a special kid.
“There was one play where he either played on or picked the ball up and snapped it in one motion for his fourth or fifth goal in the last quarter and we all got around him,” Cameron told AFLPlayers.com.au.
“I played more in the ruck that day but when I was forward, Jake fit in straight away. He knew what he was doing and just patrolled the forward line.
“He’s not one of the blokes where you have to tell him where to run because he had such a good footy brain.”
Cameron played a lot of footy with Waterman’s older brother, Alec, and watched the younger Waterman grow through the Colts system, state games and eventually played alongside him in his four WAFL appearances.
And it was well before his memorable debut performance for Claremont when Cameron realised Waterman was destined for greater things.
“You could tell he was always going to follow in his father and brother’s footsteps,” Cameron added.
“Another thing that stood out was his professionalism. He was passionate about the club and being drafted. You could tell that just by the way he prepared. He was one of those medium-sized forwards who could actually take a mark.
“He had a bigger body in the state games. A lot of young kids are very skinny but he was always solid and that showed out on the field.”
That Claremont side that defeated the Thunder, Fremantle’s affiliated WAFL club, featured a host of future AFL draftees, with Waterman along with Cameron, Essendon’s Matt Guelfi, GWS’ Zac Langdon and West Coast’s Francis Watson all featuring.
But it’s not just on the field where Waterman has prospered, with Cameron believing the Eagle midfielder gets the balance right between working hard and relaxing.
“He always has a big smile on his face, always willing to get better and listened intently to the other boys as well.
“Both Alec and Jake are very friendly, very talkative and up for a laugh but they’re professional kids, too.”
After struggling with injury throughout most of his first year on an AFL list, Waterman has begun his AFL career by averaging 12 disposals, three inside 50s and a goal per game.
And he’s proving to be a great find as the Eagles continue to surprise in the early part of 2018.