Young, dashing, dangerous and with a bit of grunt and mongrel about him, Zak Jones may still be curbing his ability to play on edge, but his line-breaking abilities are an irresistible asset for many AFL Clubs.
Jones was originally taken by the Swans with their first round selection (No. 15 overall) in the 2013 AFL Draft. He debuted the following year against Richmond, however injuries and the ability to play consistent football have plagued him early in his career. Even in his breakout season last year, he had to contend with a troublesome ankle which, along with some patchy form restricted him to only 14 home and away appearances. However, he showed when fit the player he could be, with a 22-disposal performance against Geelong in the Preliminary Final.
This season he has no doubt cemented his place in the Swan’s starting 22, adding another dimension to their half-back line, while also giving coach John Longmire the flexibility to throw him on the wing, or in the middle when required. He’s averaged over 20-disposals a game this year, with a season high 26 disposals a fortnight ago – which would’ve been even higher if not for an early hit to the quad in last weeks game that was managed.
Jones knows how to kick a goal, and has a tenacious ability to continually grind away at player’s mental ability from the outset of a contest. His age bracket and continual growth drives his price tag up for potential suitors, but is leveled somewhat by the simple fact that he is yet to put a consistent season together.
It’s no wonder he is yet to sign with the Swans, despite the consistent dialogue and confidence from the club he will re-sign. They would be waiting to see how he carves out a full season of football, and Jones management would no doubt be hoping the strong performances continue.
He has reason to come back home with his brother Nathan playing at the Demons, and they as a starting point would no doubt be interested in reuniting the siblings who would become the competitions modern day “bash brothers”. With another pre-season under his belt he would add another dimension to the Melbourne midfield and add further depth to the Demon’s half-back stocks.
Why he Stays
The Swans “bloods” culture and consistent success cannot be underestimated. Jones would’ve been a player that the Swans had earmarked to fill the void following the departure of Tom Mitchell, and that has certainly been the case. Jones has finally cemented his place in the Swans starting lineup, becoming an integral member of the squad, and looks and plays like he now feels he “belongs” there. The club has a knack of delivering long term deals with that security compensating for a potential short term pay increase at another club.
Why he Goes
Despite admitting a fortnight ago that he and his brother do not speak during the week when their clubs clash, his older brother would no doubt be planting the seeds for a return home. Melbourne are obviously the early front runners but Essendon, North Melbourne and St Kilda have all expressed interest in acquiring his services. The lure of a salary increase is also a very attractive thought when you’re only 22-years of age.