Jobe Watson needed an overseas holiday to realise he still had the passion to play AFL, let alone lead Essendon. Watson has been confirmed as the Bombers’ captain for 2016, his seventh season at the helm.
New coach John Worsfold sought feedback from the players before confirming Watson’s appointment. Watson detailed his excitement about his coach, the club’s new recruits and pre-season training at Friday’s announcement.
But the 30-year-old admitted it was a different story when the 2015 season – the third impacted by the ongoing anti-doping saga – ended. “I’d just lost the love for the game. It was difficult to go out and play,” Watson said. “I hadn’t thought long and hard about it (retirement) but I knew (playing) wasn’t really making me happy.
“I spent some time away by myself overseas and had a long think about what I wanted out of footy and my role at the football club. I decided I was still really passionate about playing and still had the urge to lead and was excited about leading.”
Worsfold nonetheless conducted a player poll during a training camp in Healesville. The former West Coast coach says it wasn’t a captaincy vote, but he asked every player to rate their teammates in a number of areas. Worsfold suggested Watson was the standout candidate. “I certainly would have challenged him if he looked weary or it looked like it was a burden for him,” he said. “But I didn’t see any of that ... there was never anything from me to say Jobe shouldn’t be captain.”
The World Anti-Doping Agency’s appeal means the Bombers’ 2012 supplements program continues to sting the club. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) verdict is expected to be handed down soon, with Watson still confident it will be a positive ruling.
“It’s obviously something that is imminent and we’re prepared to deal with it,” Watson said. “In hindsight people always make different decisions,” he added, when asked whether there was anything he’d do differently as captain during the saga. “But the experiences that every player and person involved in this gained will hold them in good stead for their life.”