Thanks Thanks:  4
Likes Likes:  10
Results 1 to 3 of 3
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Wherever the dogs are playing
    Posts
    61,707
    Post Thanks / Like

    ‘AFL was the last thing on my mind’: Liam Jones thought vax call would cost him his career

    Link



    When Liam Jones decided to retire rather than adhere to the AFL’s vaccination policy, it appeared his career was over.

    His AFL obituary, written early in 2017 when he was languishing in the VFL before reinventing himself as a defender at Carlton, was dusted off and updated.

    Not everyone understood his decision to retire with one year remaining on his contract, but it was his decision and one he was comfortable with. At the time he wanted to keep his reasons private, and he continues to do so.

    Jones wasn’t naive, though. He knew opinions varied and that vaccinations were an emotional topic.

    He accepted that an AFL return was unlikely and headed north to play football in the QAFL (Queensland Australian Football League) for Palm Beach/Currumbin and work in the fitness industry. By this time last year, he had settled into his new life.

    “I don’t watch the news. I don’t read the papers or anything like that. I felt really good, and I had an amazing time at Palm Beach in a beautiful part of the world I had never really explored before. The AFL was the last thing on my mind,” Jones said. “I didn’t think [returning to the AFL] was going to be a possibility at that time of the year and was excited to help Palm Beach as much as I could.”

    His main concern about the constant headlines wasn’t for himself but his immediate family. He feared they might be questioned or approached about his decision when going about their daily business.

    “I feel I can take on whatever ... It was more [concern] for my family, it was such a big thing that was happening and people were very opinionated on it and I just didn’t want my nan, if she was going to get a coffee, for people to speak to her [about it] or my sisters as well. That was probably the biggest thing. I just wanted to make sure my family was OK,” Jones explained.

    Then he got on with life, which he says was always going to include football in some form or another.

    “I have always just loved football and had a love for the game. I don’t think it will ever go. My sister did say to me: ‘What are you going to do if you can’t play at all?’ I said: ‘I will go down the park and kick the football. If someone is there for a kick, I will have a kick,’” Jones said.

    “I love watching footy and I love watching old games and classic players and the love will always be there.”

    That meant he was rapt just to be able to play for Palm Beach/Currumbin, maintaining his touch and keeping his ability to read the game sharp without any expectations.

    “I couldn’t speak more highly of the club,” Jones said.

    He repaid the favour on-field, making the QAFL team of the year and keeping recruiters’ eyes open as chances of a change in the AFL’s vaccination policy increased as the year went on.

    By July the AFL had changed its policy from mandating vaccinations to strongly encouraging them, and clubs began contacting Jones’ manager Shane Casley to sound him out about a possible return.

    The keenest suitor was his former club, the Western Bulldogs, who met the intercept-marking defender and offered a three-year deal to resume with the club he played 66 games with from 2010-2014.

    Jones knew he was ready to return and made the call to go back to the club that drafted him in 2008.

    When asked whether he felt any obligation to potentially return to Carlton, he says that wasn’t raised as an option.

    “That never really came about. [There was] never any conversation with the Blues,” Jones said.
    Carlton received pick 49 as compensation for losing Jones – a pick they used on Harry Lemming – and moved on.

    As did Jones, who didn’t take long to get back on pace with his new teammates at the Bulldogs knowing that other parts of his game had come to the fore while playing in the QAFL.

    “I still found parts of last year challenging, taking a bit more responsibility in trying to organise the team and share and coach on the field as well was a lot to think about,” Jones said.

    Pre-season reminded him of the daily grind that comes with building the strength and fitness required to play in the AFL. He has never been an endurance athlete and the Bulldogs found he had maintained his power and burst. It was a matter of him getting back into the rhythm.

    He did that training against a forward combination that included Aaron Naughton, Sam Darcy, Rory Lobb and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan as he worked on creating synergy with his backs.

    Regardless of who he is up against, Jones has shown an ability to read the play and turn defence into attack, particularly if there is pressure being applied on the opposition up the field. He knows what the Bulldogs need from him and is backing himself to find the balance between defence and attack, and deliver.

    “The biggest thing is sometimes you have to live and die by the sword, I like to play with freedom and if I feel like I can get to the ball I will throw 100 per cent at it.

    “It’s not every time I get it right,” Jones said.

    He says coach Luke Beveridge and defensive coach Rohan Smith give him both the freedom to make mistakes and the guidance and feedback required to get the balance right.

    “As long as I am set up well and think I can have a crack at it then [I plan to] go for it. I am not going to play safe, I will back myself in to have a crack,” Jones said.

    Jones is hunting for a flag, knowing that he has not played in a final in the 12 seasons he has completed since his debut in 2010.

    He is 32 and at a club that made the grand final just two seasons ago. But he won’t be making any outlandish predictions.

    “It is really hard to say because you don’t know how everyone else is going,” Jones said.
    FFC: Established 1883

    Premierships: AFL 1954, 2016 VFA - 1898,99,1900, 1908, 1913, 1919-20, 1923-24, VFL: 2014, 2016 . Champions of Victoria 1924. AFLW - 2018.

  2. Thanks josie, Bulldog Joe, mjp, Sedat thanked for this post
    Likes Dry Rot liked this post
  3. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    10,278
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: ‘AFL was the last thing on my mind’: Liam Jones thought vax call would cost him his career

    Massive respect for Jones. He never once complained or explained. He just made a deeply personal decision that was frankly nobody else's damn business, and took a massive and unwarranted hit to his career and livelihood without ever playing the victim or making a political statement one way or the other.

    History will look on Jones very kindly, it is already starting to.
    "Look at me mate. Look at me. I'm flyin'"

  4. Likes GVGjr, MrMahatma, azabob, Dry Rot liked this post
  5. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    3,798
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: ‘AFL was the last thing on my mind’: Liam Jones thought vax call would cost him his career

    Quote Originally Posted by Sedat View Post
    Massive respect for Jones. He never once complained or explained. He just made a deeply personal decision that was frankly nobody else's damn business, and took a massive and unwarranted hit to his career and livelihood without ever playing the victim or making a political statement one way or the other.

    History will look on Jones very kindly, it is already starting to.
    Even more so after he wins the Norm Smith this year with a record number of intercept possies and even sneaking forward for a late goal to seal our 36 point win against the Dees.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •