The career of Jack Watts has always come under incredible scrutiny ever since he was selected by Melbourne with the number one pick in the 2008 National Draft.
Over the course of his 101 games at the Demons, the 24-year-old’s form has been seen by many in the football world as inconsistent and coaches at the Demons have at times torn their hair out with the struggle of where to place him in the side, or to where his best position actually is.
Now after six rounds of the 2015 season and after starting as the sub in the Demons’ 38-point loss to the Swans last weekend, Watts has been omitted from the Demons’ side to take on the reigning premiers in Hawthorn this weekend.
Under the tenure of current Melbourne coach, Paul Roos, Watts has played every game until this week, but his numbers are hardly remarkable, averaging 16.3 disposals per game, 4.8 marks – including just 0.4 contested – and has kicked 17 goals with a further 14 goal assists. Defensively, Watts under Roos has averaged 2.6 tackles per game and his contested possession rate is a mere 29.8 percent.
While Watts’ numbers last week as sub do distort his overall 2015 figures, he has still averaged just 13 disposals per game and kicked just four goals in the five full games he has played.
Admittedly, his performance in the Demons’ round one win over Gold Coast was impressive, collecting 17 disposals, seven marks and kicking three goals, but in the weeks since, Watts’ form has dropped away decidedly and now the time has come where he has lost his senior place.
Using the Champion Data ranking points as a guide, Watts has only achieved one score over 100 this season at an average of just 58, after only two century scores and a 74-point average over the course of 2014. At this stage of his career, Watts’ numbers should be increasing, not falling away to the extent his have this year.
The burning question now for Jack Watts is how he responds to his demotion to Casey, where he has been named in the forward pocket in the Scorpions’ clash against Port Melbourne.
Will he be able to knuckle down and fight hard enough in the VFL to regain form, not just personally, but play enough of a role in the team structure to justify a quick return to the Demons, or will this personal blow be the beginning of the end for Watts at the Melbourne Football Club?
The last time Watts was dumped to the VFL was in 2012, where he spent two games playing for Casey, averaging 20.5 disposals and kicking five goals before his senior recall.
Incidentally, his first game back in the seniors in round eight 2012 saw Watts collect a career-high 34 disposals in the Demons 101-point loss to the Sydney Swans.
Three years down the track from his last demotion, how Watts handles the next few weeks will really dictate his future, as it is unlikely he will spend just the one week in the VFL, if the objective is for him to regain some sustained form and confidence in his own game.
It is notable Watts becomes eligible as a free agent at the end of next season and if the Demons want to claim any currency in the form of a trade, this season will be their last chance to do so before Watts could walk to the club of his choosing.
One thing seems certain: there will be a lot more attention than usual paid to the VFL clash this Saturday afternoon at North Port Oval between Port Melbourne and the Casey Scorpions, as Jack Watts begins the next fight of his football life in order to regain his spot in the Melbourne senior team.