Shock move to extend skipper’s career
MELBOURNE captain Nathan Jones wants his shock move to the wing to extend his AFL career as he on Tuesday revealed he had shelved the surfboard for September.
The Herald Sun can reveal Jones, 30, has attended fewer than two centre bounces per quarter since the Round 18 loss to Geelong.
Jones was previously averaging 17.5 centre bounces per game and his percentage of game time spent on the wing has since doubled.
"I used to judge my game personally on a different range of statistics to where I find myself now," Jones told the Herald Sun.
"I can influence the game in different ways from the wing position. I'm not going to find myself in as many opportunities of winning contested footy and tackling.
"It's more about positioning, leadership, quality of possession and hopefully being able to hit the scoreboard, which I'd been able to do up until the weekend.
"There's an element of not getting as much footy, but there's also the opportunity for me to play my role along with Aaron vandenBerg and Dom Tyson, who tend to spend more time out there."
Jones booted 6.3 in a five-week patch and if he kicks a goal in Saturday's preliminary final against West Coast it would equal his career-best tally of 16 in a season.
Jones chatted to 1988 Brownlow Medallist and Demons great Gerard Healy about his new role after a swim at the Brighton Baths last week.
"The change was around (eight weeks ago) and there was no sort of reason behind it," Jones said.
"Collectively we're working better as a group now. I still get to pop in and out (of the centre), but the guys we've got in there at the moment are good runners, good inside players and can play outside.
"It's about finding the right mix and I think we've done that.
"The challenge, particularly when you get older, is to adapt and mould yourself in different ways to hopefully have longevity in your career.
"I'm really open to that, that's something I've spoken to Goody about. I want to extend my career as long as possible."
Jones said he was looking at the game "very differently" now as young guns Clayton Oliver, Angus Brayshaw and James Harmes carry the centre square load.
Jones contemplated a surf after last week's semi-final win against Hawthorn before deciding against it.
"I've actually put the surfboard in the rack over the last month, just to make sure I don't risk getting injured," he said.
"But I tossed it up last weekend after the game. I was going to surf Sunday and then I thought that would be a clanger if I actually hurt myself."