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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

There has been speculation throughout 2016 about whether or not Essendon's Jobe Watson would return to the Bombers or walk away from the game. The supplements saga and resulting one-year banishment had taken a heavy toll on him and he left Australia to travel and get away from football.

He spent time in Europe and the USA, including a visit to the 2015 USAFL National Tournament. He later went to New York where he stayed with a childhood friend and worked as a barista to learn the coffee business. He also worked out, taking some dance classes and other workout programs. Teammate Dyson Heppell was sure Watson would rejoin the club the previous week saying he had seen Jobe upon his return to Australia. Heppell said Watson looked to be in great shape and ready to play, speculating that he wouldn't look so great if he wasn't planning a return to the club.

As the Preliminary Finals were getting underway, Watson finally announced that he would return to the club. At a press conference to announce his return, he said he had to get away and think. He described removing himself from the Melbourne football bubble as liberating and said he :"... went down a rabbit hole ... with his open-minded outlook to do anything that was asked of him to ... take him out of his comfort zone ...". He said that while he hadn't spoken much to his father Tim too much, he was able to really open up to his friend in New York.

As for his return to Essendon, he is unsure how his form will be or if will resume the captaincy. But he said he felt good mentally and with that the "... body acts accordingly ...". He has spoken to Coach John Worsfold and found him inspiring. Acting captain Brendon Goddard was over the moon with the prospect of Jobe's return describing him as "... a quality person, individual, footballer, captain, a good friend." As for the captaincy, it will be up to not only Watson himself, but a vote from the playing group and endorsement from the coaching staff.

On keeping his 2012 Brownlow Medal, the AFL will not make decision until the World Court renders their decision on the players' appeal which was filed in January. Of all the banned players, nine are still on Essendon's list with Heppell, Cale Hooker, Michael Hurley, Tom Bellchambers, Travis Colyer, Heath Hocking, Brent Stanton, David Myers and Ben Howlett all signing new deals to remain at Essendon. Michael HIbberd has requested a trade and Tayte Pears announced his retirement at the end of the season to pursue a career as a fireman.

The day before his official announcement, Watson sent out an amusing tweet featuring a picture of his bulldog and footy boots with the comment, "Hey mate, I'm going to have to borrow these back off you."


Article last changed on Sunday, September 25, 2016 - 8:20 PM EDT

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