ESSENDON champion Jobe Watson has announced he will retire at the end of the AFL season and he’s hoping to go out playing finals football.
The 32-year-old former captain says he realised his was increasingly struggling to keep up with the speed of the game when it used to be “slow” for him.
“I know that the time is up and I think the worst thing you can do is lie to yourself and try to convince yourself that it’s not, but deep down you know,” said Watson.
It draws the curtain on an illustrious – and also controversy-hit – career after 14 seasons and Watson is hoping he can now enjoy trying to ensure the eight- placed Bombers play in the finals.
He will join one of the most illustrious retirement classes in recent memory with Luke Hodge, Sam Mitchell, Nick Riewoldt, Matt Priddis and Matthew Boyd all set to finish their careers at the end of this season.
Watson was one of 34 past and present Essendon players to serve a 12-month doping ban last year as a result of the club’s 2012 supplements program.
He was also stripped of his 2012 Brownlow Medal, and the turmoil of the saga left him close to walking away from the game.
But he returned and has been in solid, if not spectacular form, despite being increasingly asked to rotate between the midfield and forward line.
He noticeably struggled during the Bombers’ win over Carlton on Saturday, finishing with just 11 disposals.
Watson acknowledged that the supplements scandal and its aftermath had affected his feelings about the game.
“There’s probably just hurt associated with it and when you get inflicted like that, with that sort of pain, then invariably the way you feel about something changes,” he said.
The (Brownlow) medal didn’t really matter to me, it wasn’t important.
“I think the people whose opinion I value and who know me the best, they haven’t changed because I had to hand back the Brownlow Medal.”
JOBE WATSON CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
* Recruited by Essendon as a father-son selection (son of Tim Watson) with the No.40 selection in the 2002 national draft
* AFL debut round 13, 2003 vs Geelong
* 217 senior games for Essendon (112 goals)
* Three-time club best and fairest
* Two-time All-Australian
* Essendon captain 2010-2015
* AFL Players’ Association best captain award 2012
* International rules player 2014
*Yiooken Award, 2012