Waters keen to lead under new skipper

STEVE BUTLER
Waters keen to lead under new skipper

The angst over an injury saga that has troubled Beau Waters for much of his 11-season career is replaced by a relaxed, focused demeanour as he tells how he has not missed a pre-season session.

Proudly sporting the full West Coast playing kit he has not worn in a competitive match since round 15, 2013, gun defender Waters somehow looks younger and more vibrant than he has during an 18-month injury battle where he has been forced to draw on all his reserves of optimism.

The 2003 No.11 draft pick had right shoulder surgery in May last year after the joint became infected over the previous summer, with pins and screws from an earlier operation having to be removed.

He says he never once thought his career was at the crossroads and never felt the club was ready to move him on.

"I've always been really transparent with the club and they've been quite transparent with me," Waters said.

"One of the things we've prided ourselves on is speaking openly to each other so I've always known where I stand.

"As soon as the point would come that I didn't think I could contribute any more, I'd walk away and if they didn't think I could contribute they'd give me the tap on the shoulder.

"Fortunately, that time hasn't come just yet, either way. I've got the rest of the season with my contract and who knows, I might be hanging around a bit longer.

"(Former coach) John Worsfold said to me when I missed my entire second season that what- ever I missed on the front end, I'd make up double on the back end.

"I'm not sure it's going to ring true because I'd still be playing when I'm 40, but I've lived the last few years thinking that way."

It had been difficult watching the team grow under the tutelage of coach Adam Simpson.

"There's been a paradigm shift in our playing group and our coaching staff and I'm really looking forward to the opportunity to play under this new regime to see what piece of the puzzle I am," he said.

"I really hope it's a piece that helps the team in some way."

Waters, whose mentors include Perth businessmen Russell Gibbs and Geoff Rasmussen, said sessions with Pilates guru Danielle Katich had physically and mentally driven his recovery.

Club physiotherapist Steve Gravina had also been instrumental in finding muscle strengthening and movement possibilities to help protect him from injury, but wife Hannah's support proved the pivotal factor.

"She's a fantastic partner and definitely my best friend and soul mate," he said. "Everything is easier when you know you're coming home to her."

Waters had been touted as the frontrunner to replace the now-retired Darren Glass as Eagles captain before his surgery.

Although fellow South Australian Shannon Hurn was elected captain, Waters is back in the leadership group this season alongside vice-captains Scott Selwood and Josh Kennedy, Brownlow medallist Matt Priddis and defender Eric Mackenzie.

"One of my biggest philosophies in life is 'don't let title define leadership and don't let title define your actions'," Waters said. "Irrespective of whether I'm captain or not, I'm trying to be the best leader I can be around the club, trying to mentor younger players, trying to give other players different insights that I've received and equally receiving feedback on where I can get better as a player and a person.

"Shannon has hit the ground running, he's suited to the role and looked up to by all of his peers.

"He's peer-elected and that's sometimes the most powerful way to select any sort of leader."

Waters denied having ever felt he had anything to prove during any part of his career and said a consistent pre-season of gym work had put him back up to a 90kg playing weight which had been lighter in recent seasons.

He laughed at the fact fellow defender Mackenzie, who was drafted to the club three years after him, had tagged him as a "new recruit" in a recent media interview. But it was a sentiment he was happy to embrace.

"I've definitely got the new recruit bug," Waters said.

The 28-year-old, an All- Australian in 2012, also promised his teammates that his ever- expanding vocabulary, the subject of great mirth at the club, had not yet reached its peak.

He said his favourite word was loquacious, meaning talkative.

"Having a good vernacular is important," he said. "They're descriptive words, English words. They're older than I am."

"There's been a paradigm shift in our playing group and our coaching staff ..."" *Beau Waters *