Watts drawn into Demons tanking investigation
Caught up in the controversy ... Melbourne's Jack Watts. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
MELBOURNE Football Club's selection policy, including its use of prized draft pick Jack Watts, has been heavily scrutinised by AFL investigations into the Demons' alleged tanking in 2009.
Watts, the No.1 selection in the 2008 national draft, has found himself drawn into the controversy, as the 800-page AFL report and about 60 witness statements primarily focus on former coach Dean Bailey, chief executive Cameron Schwab and former general manager of football Chris Connolly.
Watts played only three matches in his first season, making what became an infamous debut against Collingwood in the round-11 Queen's Birthday blockbuster when he was physically targeted by the Magpies.
He would play in only the next two matches, against Essendon and Brisbane, before returning to the VFL.
AFL investigators Brett Clothier and Abraham Haddad have questioned why he was not given more time in the seniors, in a year the Demons would win only four matches and successfully claim what they thought would be a coveted priority pick.
The Demons argued Watts was not ready for a sustained run at the elite level, was still playing school football and had exams to sit. He did not even train full-time with the Demons and his season ended six weeks prematurely due to a chipped thumb.
The Demons' selection and injury policy through this now-tumultuous season has been questioned, with Haddad and Clothier making it clear during their interview process what the ramifications would be for those who did not co-operate.
The club's assistant fitness coach in 2009, Adam Paulo, who left the club after last season, former fitness boss Joel Hocking, now at Carlton, and then football operations manager Craig Notman have been questioned.
Connolly, Schwab and Bailey have denied any wrongdoing.
The hours and days after the 11-point win over Port Adelaide in round 15 are also being heavily scrutinised. The Demons had just won their third game of the season and under the priority draft pick laws at the time, teams could win no more than four games to secure the extra selection. There are claims Schwab appeared disappointed immediately after the win.