A move to the midfield seems to be paying off for Zak Jones, the zippy youngster taking his football to the next level and turning heads in the process following a standout performance in the middle against Brisbane.
The 22-year-old enjoyed a career-high 27 disposals in his side’s big win at the SCG, combining that with six clearances and a great running goal to be among the best players on the ground alongside Jake Lloyd (30 disposals at 84 per cent efficiency) and Lance Franklin (eight goals).
Jones’ effort against the Lions was a continuation of the form shown throughout the season. He’s been one of the Sydney Swans’ most consistent senior players, averaging 22 disposals over the past seven weeks.
“It was definitely one of my better games for how many games I’ve played,” Jones, a veteran of just 37 games, said on Monday.
“Hopefully I can build from that game and then build on that momentum throughout the year.”
Jones puts his improvement down to his uninterrupted summer on the training track plus extra work completed with midfield coaches Stuart Dew and Josh Francou.
“I spent more time with the midfield during the pre-season and that’s something I wanted to build on,” Jones added.
“Hopefully I can put my hand up and go forward from there and take every opportunity as they come.”
And he’ll be given every opportunity to keep performing at the top level if coach John Longmire has anything to do with it.
“He’s one player that has been consistent for us,” Longmire said of Jones post-match.
“He’s a young player in the team who’s got more confident every game.
“We know he’s a really good player for us and we’ve got enormous faith in him to not only play well, which he does and has consistently been doing, but drive the group as a young leader coming through.
“He’s very good at it – he was good at it last year and he’s been fantastic at it this year under real adversity, and they’re good character traits to have.”
Jones will need to be at his competitive best this Sunday when the Sydney Swans take on North Melbourne at Docklands.
North Melbourne has found some winning form also, with the Roos’ second win of the year coming against the previously undefeated Adelaide last weekend.
Boasting plenty of grunt midfielders and outside run, Jones is predicting a hard-fought contest against the Kangaroos.
“They always bring a tough fight every game,” Jones added.
“We have to bring the same aggression we did this week and continue what we’ve spoken about (internally) during the week.”
Jones joined teammates at Redleaf Beach for a recovery session which included some light stretching then a dip in the water.
The Swans are back at training on Wednesday and Friday ahead of the trip to Melbourne where they’ll aim to record their third-straight win against the Roos.