Suspended Essendon midfielder Brent Stanton is leaning toward playing on next year with the Bombers, but he must first exorcise the mental demons associated with the AFL club’s supplements scandal.
Stanton is one of 34 Essendon players serving doping bans arising from the club’s doomed 2012 supplements program, 12 of whom are still with the Bombers.
The 30-year-old admitted the mental anguish caused by the controversy that saw the club fined and coach James Hird depart has taken a significant toll on him.
But he has been a mainstay at training sessions organised for banned players away from a club they can’t return to until November this year, when most of their suspensions expire.
“I’m definitely leaning towards (playing), but I’ve still got a decision to make over the next three or four months,” Stanton told the Seven Network’s Game Day program on Sunday.
“It was a long four years. It’s not to say that I don’t have the passion to play again – I still do – but it has been tiring.
“I’m feeling really refreshed at the moment, it’s probably the most stress-free I’ve been for 13 years, so that’s enjoyable.
“Most likely I’m going to play next year but it takes some people a little bit longer than others to say ‘yep, I’m ready – I’m jumping back in’.
“But I think I’ve only missed two (training) sessions so I think that explains where I’m at.”
Of the 12 banned players still with Essendon, Tom Bellchambers, Cale Hooker, Travis Colyer, David Myers, Heath Hocking and Dyson Heppell have already announced they will return to the club in 2017.
That leaves star defender Michael Hurley, skipper Jobe Watson, Michael Hibberd, Ben Howlett, Tayte Pears and Stanton as players yet to confirm their intentions.