LEADER Nathan Jones says he is relishing being a leader of the Demons, and is adamant he will do anything he can to help drive the standards of the playing group.
Jones and co-captain Jack Grimes were the only members of the 2012 leadership group to remain from 2011. And, having recently been named vice captain of the team for 2013, Jones remains hellbent on pushing the expectations set by the coaches and the incumbent leadership group.
“For me, I just want to continue to keep driving myself. I see leadership as another opportunity to make myself a better player. I really enjoy that aspect of it, and like my involvement in the group,” he told melbournefc.com.au.
“I’m really enjoying the young players coming through. We’ve got some great young draftees, but we’ve also got some talent on the list that needs plenty of work. So there is plenty of scope for them to improve as well.
“If we don’t grab it and try and do all we can – that chance will pass us by.”
Despite the accolades that come with leadership, Jones said it wasn’t always an easy position to hold.
“Leadership’s a pretty tough gig, particularly when things aren’t going that well, but I’m really excited by the challenge and the opportunities that being in the leadership group gives you,” he said.
“You can improve yourself and the footy club. I’m really passionate about the footy club and I want it to go somewhere and I want us to be great.
“I know the boys in the leadership group have the same feeling.”
Jones said part of his leadership role was working closely with several players. He highlighted Rohan Bail and James Magner as close teammates, and added that the likes of Jeremy Howe and Jack Viney were now under his wing.
“I’m working closely with Howey, because he has a lot of leadership aspirations. He was one of our best players last year, so he wants to try and capitalise on that and get himself up to being a consistent, high level performer for us,” he said.
“It’s been really good working with Howey and with Jack Viney, a young player coming in. He’s a quality kid and he’ll have a really good impact around here. He’s got really high standards for himself, which is really good.
“I see a little bit of myself in Jack, when I first started – he’s really aggressive and wants to attack everything. He’s just working on ways that he can improve as a player, which is really exciting for us and I’m pretty excited to see him in action.”
Having come off his best season in 2012 – he won his first Keith ‘Bluey’ Truscott Memorial Trophy – Jones said he was adamant that he could go to another level in 2013.
“I just feel confident that I can better what I provided last year, but there is still a bit of work to go – I was a little bit behind at the start of pre-season [with a foot injury],” he said.
“I’m continually chipping away and just trying to be really smart with the decisions that I make in terms of my body and then I’ll really build into the season.
“You can set up your season well by having a really good pre-season, which I’ve been lucky enough to have for a while now. I’ve got a good base, and I’m looking forward to bettering last year this year.”
Jones is genuinely optimistic about a much improved Melbourne lineup in 2013, but where that puts the red and blue remains to be seen.
“I’m just really excited for the group, because I think we’re in a far better position than we have been before,” he said.
“Whether or not that results in wins or losses, it’ll be good if we can be competitive in a lot of games and really fight it out, right down to the wire.”