Watters declared that the 2013 preiership race has prospects to unearth strategic succession plans for the imminent loss of the likes of superstar forward Nick Riewoldt and other top Saints Lenny Hayes and Stephen Milne.
Watters heads into his second season as Saints coach after replacing three-time grand final architect Ross Lyon with a turnover of more than 20 players on the senior list and a distinctly extended coaching and support staff.
Key recruits in Saints list refurbishment include the promising Hickey from Gold Coast and Lee from powerful WAFL club Claremont.
While Watters is adamant he is not entirely in a rebuilding phase with his Saints, he baulked at declaring definite finals dates for September.
He has promised improvement on the Saints ninth-place finish last season after spending much of the season up to Round 16 perched just inside the top eight.
“I’ve got a very simple saying with the group and that is I’m not interested in their birth certificate,” Watters said in an expansive interview with Melbourne sports radio specialists SEN.
“If they play well and they train well then they warrant selection and they knock the door down.
“That policy is going to apply again this year.
“If you look at Tom Lee coming on the list and Tom Hickey, obviously they are players that are going to address some deficiencies in our list going forward.
“We see Tom Hickey as being a 10-year ruckman at this club to support Ben McEvoy, we see Tom Lee as being the really 194-195cm key forward that provides a really strong succession plan for us.”
Watters is heading into some delicate balancing in his ambitions for the Saints this season and beyond as he juggles a growing turnover of his trump play-makers and match-winners.
He is again hesitant to claim his Saints in a full rebuilding and development process.
“We have to have an eye for the future but at the same time we don’t want to use excuses,” he said.
“We don’t want to be a side that hides behind development either.
“We want to be competitive. I thought we were that for most of last year and we’re aiming to be better this year.
“Look, 26 of our 45 players are under 23 years of age and 21 of them have just been added to our list since I’ve been here.
“There’s a lot of freshness about that and with that there’s a lot of excitement and lot of optimism as well.
“We know we’ve got a lot of work to do.
“But I look at the way we’re going about their work and I’m very confident on where we are progressing.”
Watters conducted a full review of his football operations late into last season with a substantial overhaul his outcome.
A major addition to his coaching department was recruitment of West Coast Eagles 2006 premiership defensive coach Tony Micale.
Micale takes specific development and assistant coaching duties in a new position under Watters and his ambitious plans for renewed finals presence from 2013 and approaching seasons.
“From the start of last year we’ve made almost a dozen changes to our football department so there’s a degree of instability that comes with that,” he elaborated.
“But I look at our pre-season this year and there are very few changes.
“We’ve made couple of additions with Tony Micale has moved into an assistant’s role and he brings with him 20 or 30 years of football coaching experience.
“There’s a real stability about what we’ve got here, resource wise and I think that’s flowing through our whole pre-season which has been certainly up from last year.
”We’re really happy with the way we’re progressing.”