JACK Watts was a solid performer for the Casey Scorpions as they lost to Port Melbourne in Saturday’s VFL clash at North Port Oval.
The 24-year-old - who effectively dropped himself from the senior side earlier in the week - kicked a classy goal, took eight marks and had 24 disposals to be among his team’s best in a game played in perfect conditions.
However, he did not have an enormous impact on the game as he battles to regain touch in the VFL.
Casey coach Justin Plapp was pleased with Watts' effort but said there was no guarantee he would return to the AFL team immediately.
"[He] worked his way into the game. He knows where he is at … it's probably not going to be a week thing for him, it's probably going to be a two or three week thing," Plapp said.
"[We're] not putting a ceiling on it but I thought he played the role we expected him to play and some of the 50/50 [contests] were pretty good."
Melbourne coach Paul Roos said after the Demons' loss to Hawthorn that he had spoken to Watts during the week and both had agreed it was best for him to play in the VFL.
"I just talked to Jack and you could tell he was getting down on himself and there was a lot of pressure on him," Roos said.
"We know his form hasn't been great and he was fantastic. He just said 'I really feel like I'm letting the team down and I really want to get back and enjoy my footy, find some form and then get back in when I'm in good form’.
"(but) no one goes to out to play poorly.”
Apart from Watts, Jordie McKenzie was the best of the Melbourne-listed players. Mark Jamar struggled throughout and Max Gawn kicked just one goal.
Tall utility Jack Fitzpatrick was taken to hospital as a precaution after hurting his neck in the first quarter.
Rookie-listed ruckman Max King impressed in the development game, kicking six goals.
Earlier Roos had revealed on Triple M that Watts "dropped himself" from Saturday's game against Hawthorn.
Watts struggled for form since an excellent game against Gold Coast in round one and wore the substitute's vest last week against the Sydney Swans.
The coach described the discussion he had with Watts as productive.
"It was a really good conversation and hats off to him. Hopefully it might be a bit of turning point for him that he said 'I don't want to get picked this week'," Roos said.
Roos emphasised that Watts wanted to play senior football but felt as though he was letting down his teammates and the best thing was for him to drop back a grade to find some touch.
Melbourne's forward line was depleted further for the clash against the Hawks, after Jesse Hogan was a late withdrawal from the clash, joining Watts on the sidelines.