Essendon still unclear on Watson’s future

Essendon are no closer to knowing whether Jobe Watson intends to play on next season.

A scheduled meeting between Bombers chief executive Xavier Campbell and Watson this week didn’t resolve the question of the banned skipper’s playing future.

“I think we’ll know when Jobe knows … we’re happy to give him that time,” Essendon football boss Rob Kerr told ABC Grandstand on Sunday.

“It’s been a big saga, he’s clearly got things he wants to reconcile in his own mind and we’re happy to let him do that in his own time.

“So the conversation continues but we’d very much like to see him come back.

“Jobe’s probably borne the largest load through this whole saga, being the captain of the club, and obviously the Brownlow is tied in with everything as well.

“My understanding is that he’s not 100 per cent clear on what his decision is at the moment and if he needs more time we’re happy to give him that.”

Kerr added that a final decision wasn’t necessarily required until several key AFL list lodgement dates in late November.

Watson is the last of 12 current Essendon players serving doping bans for their part in the club’s ill-fated 2012 supplements program to make his intentions known.

Tayte Pears has retired to pursue a career with the Metropolitan Fire Brigade and Michael Hibberd has been linked with a move to Melbourne after requesting a trade.

But Cale Hooker, Dyson Heppell, Michael Hurley, Travis Colyer, David Myers, Brent Stanton, Ben Howlett, Heath Hocking and Tom Bellchambers all re-committed to the Bombers.

Those players were allowed to return to the club for the first time since January on Wednesday this week, but must still comply with strict conditions of their ASADA bans that won’t officially end until November.

Kerr said that group would continue to train at their training base away from the club until the end of September under the care of former Essendon assistant coach Sean Wellman and ex-Collingwood performance manager David Buttifant.

After a short break, they will then join the club’s first-to-fourth year players on modified training programs when they resume from the off-season break on November 7.

“It’s been really pleasing to see the boys come back to the club it’s obviously been a long and difficult year for those players and also their teammates have missed them as well,” Kerr said.

“With he exception of Jobe they were able to come and use the facilities and train this week but we’re actually getting them all back in next week for medicals.

“Just on first sight most of them look to be in pretty good condition … certainly none of the players I ran into looked like they were carrying any extra weight.”

Watson was unable to return to the club this week because his ban was extended due to playing in last year’s International Rules series.

The 34 past and present Essendon players suspended by ASADA are awaiting the outcome of their appeal to a Swiss court, which isn’t expected until November.

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