Former Essendon captain Jobe Watson believes Zach Merrett’s omission from the leadership group earlier this year will be an “extraordinary positive” in the dual Crichton medallist’s quest to become a better leader.

After four seasons in the cohort and three as vice-captain, Merrett didn’t feature in this season's five-man leadership group. 

Watson, who captained Essendon for six seasons including Merrett’s debut year in 2014, said the 24-year-old would grow considerably from the experience.

“The Zach that I know, he relishes feedback. He will take that on board and he will be a much better leader out of it,” Watson said on Working Through It.

“I think we’re too narrow-minded in the industry that when someone gets a setback or something is viewed as not how we would have liked it to be, then it’s viewed as too much of a negative. 

“I really don’t believe this is a setback for Zach at all. It’s an extraordinary positive. It’s going to be a perfect platform for him to grow and excel and become a more complete leader. No one is born a complete leader. It’s something that you are educated on. 

“I think this will be something he looks back on and thinks it was such a valuable experience for me to go through.”

13:09 Mins
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Working Through It | Zach Merrett

Zach Merrett joins the show to talk about not being in the 2020 leadership group, the dynamics between senior coach John Worsfold and his successor Ben Rutten, and his greater appreciation for the Bomber faithful.

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Merrett first entered the Bombers’ leadership group in just his third season in 2016, last year captaining the team on game days in the absence of injured skipper Dyson Heppell. 

While disappointed to not be formally recognised as a leader in 2020, Merrett said he still harboured the ultimate leadership ambitions.

“It was something that was a shock at the time. I was fortunate to have some people around me who gave me good guidance and feedback,” he said. 

“It’s given me another chance to grow myself and I’ll continue to support Dyson and the other four leaders who are formalised in the group.

“For me, it’s about growing relationships with players on and off the field and just being a good, positive influence to keep growing the group.” 

“I’m still striving to become the best leader at Essendon and still striving to be the captain of the club at some point in time.”

Scroll below for an episode guide and full replay of the ninth episode of Working Through It.


5:18 - The different strategies between the AFL and NRL in terms of the return to play.

13:36 - Orazio Fantasia's quad injury and how the forward will look without him in round two.

19:20 - Merrett joins the show.

20:07 - Merrett on not being in the 2020 leadership group.

24:36 - The dynamics between senior coach John Worsfold and his successor Ben Rutten.

26:56 - Merrett on his greater appreciation for the Bomber faithful.

30:57 - Merrett's cheeky dig at Watson and early memories of him.

34:10 - Watson on the Merrett he knows, and why he'll become a better leader in 2020.

38:28 - Brendon Goddard joins the show.

39:50 - Goddard on how he feels about his time at Essendon.

44:05 - Goddard reveals his confidants during challenging times.

47:20 - Goddard gives his take on the Bombers' 2020 prospects.

59:22 - From one competitive beast to another - Goddard's observations of basketball legend Michael Jordan.

1:04:23 - Hird, Watson and Campbell share insights on Goddard as a person and player.

1:09:37 - This week's Coles Mighty Moment.

1:15:22 - Questions from listeners, including leadership tips, an update on Joe Daniher and the Bombers' ruck make-up.