Skip to main content
Main content

Watson confirms AFL return for Essendon

Essendon Bombers captain Jobe Watson
Jobe Watson will confirm on Friday morning that he is back at Essendon, ending weeks of speculation about his AFL future
Photo Source: Getty Images

More AFL News

The spiritual leader of the Essendon Football Club is officially a born-again Bomber.

Jobe Watson has locked in a return to AFL football, committing to the club he captained for six seasons before serving a year-long doping ban.

The 31-year-old doesn't know how he'll perform in the AFL next season or whether he will remain as skipper.

But after a "liberating" gap year, the 31-year-old confirmed on Friday he would return in 2017 to continue his decorated career with the Bombers.

Watson was one of 34 past and present Essendon players banned this season because of the club's 2012 supplements scandal, and the last of the 12 current Bombers to declare his plans.

He said if he'd made a decision before his overseas break, the outcome would have been different.

"Certainly when I left I didn't think I would be back playing AFL," he said.

"I leant either way for a long time."

Watson said he needed to escape the AFL bubble to work it out, spending time in New York City and on holidays abroad to clear his head.

"I had to get away and think about what I wanted to do with life," he said.

"I came back and wanted to see how I was feeling when I was back in Melbourne."

After talking with "really inspiring" coach John Worsfold this week, Watson said he felt at peace with his decision.

But he said he hadn't thought about the captaincy, which will be voted on by players next year.

Despite a commitment to fitness on his sabbatical, he's unsure whether he can recapture his best football.

"I'm incredibly vain and New York is a competitive city so you've got to look your best when you're in New York," he laughed.

"Even if I wasn't going to play (in 2017) I prepared myself to come back and play.

"I didn't want the decision not to be mine and I felt it was a disservice not to come back in the best possible shape.

"The first time I touched a footy was when I got back here so I don't know how I'm going to go."

Watson's return means the club has secured 10 of the 12 banned Bombers, with only Michael Hibberd hoping to find a new AFL home at Melbourne and Tayte Pears pursuing a career in fire fighting.

But the saga is not over for Watson.

The 34 players have a last-gasp appeal in the Swiss legal system, and once resolved, the AFL Commission will decide if he should keep his 2012 Brownlow medal.

"I'm at peace with where it has gone and where I'm at," he said of the long-running saga.

Watson's return was cheered by fellow teammates, with stand-in skipper Brendon Goddard saying he was "over the moon".

AAP©2016 AAP