Essendon’s efforts to salvage their freefalling AFL season must go ahead without captain Jobe Watson, who will have season-ending shoulder surgery on Wednesday.
While Watson’s surgery is more horrible news for the Bombers, the injury at least explains his unusually-bad performance on Sunday.
In his 200th game, the 2012 Brownlow Medallist only had nine possessions as St Kilda mauled Essendon by 110 points.
That inevitably led to speculation about what effect the club’s ongoing supplements crisis was having on Watson.
But it emerged on Tuesday that Watson had hurt his shoulder the previous weekend in the loss to Hawthorn.
The star onballer aggravated the injury early in the St Kilda match and scans confirmed the should needs a season-ending operation.
Watson will undergo the surgery on Wednesday.
“His MRI (scan) unfortunately shows that he has an unstable shoulder and has significant damage,” club doctor Bruce Reid told the Essendon website.
“He saw (surgeon) Greg Hoy this afternoon and that meeting determined he will require surgery.”
Watson said it was frustrating he could not help Essendon turn around their massive form slump.
Sunday was their fifth-straight loss and they are in major trouble with a 4-9 record.
“When you can’t be out there to help rectify it, it’s disappointing,” he said.
Watson also called on his teammates to rally in the last nine rounds of the season.
“I understand the expectations going into the year haven’t matched the output,” he said.
“But we’re hoping the guys will be able to find some form and the effort we’ve shown in patches can be sustained for full games.
“Looking at the last half of this year, we want to hopefully see that sort of effort and sustained consistency, which will make us a lot more competitive.”
Coach James Hird, who has received strong backing from Watson since the St Kilda disaster, said other players must now step up and fill the breach.
“We all feel for Jobe, he is such a tremendous leader of our club, and for his season to be ended prematurely is obviously a big blow for him personally,” Hird said.
“It’s certainly tough to replace a leader and player like Jobe.
“But given the circumstances we currently find ourselves in, it presents members of our playing group with the opportunity to showcase their leadership and ability to respond against Melbourne on Saturday.”