K rock Football

Gawn wanted Jones to stay

Melbourne veteran Nathan Jones will play on in 2021. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

MELBOURNE captain Max Gawn has revealed he spent weeks trying to talk his predecessor Nathan Jones into staying with the team for the AFL grand final.

But Gawn concedes that Jones’ wish to be back in Melbourne for the birth of his twins was a formidable trump card.

Gawn has lauded Jones’ influence on himself and other key Melbourne players ahead of the September 25 grand final against the Western Bulldogs in Perth, saying it’s the key legacy that the midfielder will leave on the club.

The ruckman said he had spent two months talking to Jones about where he should be when his wife Jerri gives birth to twins, given Melbourne’s growing premiership contention.

“They have spiced up while we’ve been in quarantine – I’ve always been the one trying to convince him to stay,” Gawn told RSN.

“But he had a pretty good trump card and that trump card was the birth of his twins.”

Jones also has not been in the senior team since round 15, with Tom Sparrow and James Jordon keeping him out of the lineup.

“Nathan saw that there was potentially less than 10 per cent chance of him playing and family is really important to him,” Gawn said.

Regardless of the practicalities, Gawn said it was still emotional when Jones confirmed he would return to Melbourne.

Jones is a spiritual leader at the Demons, given the former captain and 300-gamer stayed loyal through some hellish times at the club.

But Gawn noted he has also been a massive influence on key Melbourne players such as himself, Christian Petracca, Clayton Oliver and Angus Brayshaw.

“He’s big on the legacy that he’s going to leave,” Gawn said.

“I’m just making sure he doesn’t get remembered for the Nathan Jones of the dark years – I hope he gets remembered for the Nathan Jones, for the person who started what we’re about to begin.

“He was my favourite captain, he was a tremendous captain.

“He led me to the person I am today and also multiple people who are in the team today.”

Gawn said he became emotional immediately after last Friday night’s preliminary final win over Geelong when Jones and several other non-playing teammates ran onto the field to celebrate.

“I almost completely lost where I was … ‘wow, this is a massive moment’,” he said.

“That’s when I realised what we’d done.

“We’re all taking this team to new levels, I’m just the lucky one who has the ‘C’ next to his name.

“We’re going to be put to our ultimate test to see how our maturity is, by a ring-a-ding-ding grand final between the two teams who have been (near) top of the ladder since round one.”

Key defender Steven May injured a hamstring against the Cats and had a light run on Monday, but Gawn confirmed he is far from proving his grand final fitness.

“He is good, but he hasn’t been put to the test yet – that will come Wednesday, Saturday,” Gawn said.

(C) AAP 2021