Liam Jones is the best story of the 2017 AFL season

Andrew Macdougall Roar Pro

By , Andrew Macdougall is a Roar Pro

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    It started with Jon Patton, then Tom Lynch and Taylor Walker, as forward-turned-defender Liam Jones continued to take scalps in an impressive return to the AFL.

    Since being recalled to the AFL, Jones has been in scintillating form, which has the 26-year-old set to sign a new two-year contract to stay at Princes Park.

    Is there a bigger individual story of the 2017 season? A player on the brink, career almost lost, then a move from Josh Fraser in the VFL to take Jones and turn him into a dominant defender.

    An underdog revival, battle against the odds – whatever you call it, it’s why we love sport.

    Jones’ VFL performances prompted other clubs to sound out the Tasmanian. A knee injury to Sam Rowe forced the hand of Carlton coach Brendon Bolton, honouring Jones’ form and hard work with a Round 12 selection against the Giants.

    Heavily scrutinised for a perceived lack of work ethic across his career, Jones is averaging 11.5 one per cent plays in five weeks of football this season, highlighting the resurgence of a once lackadaisical player.

    Jones’ lock down defending is not only impressive, his ability to read the play, peel off his direct opponent and give the Blues stability in the defensive half has become vital. This has seen Jones rank number one for spoils, second in intercept marks and averaging 3.6 rebound inside 50s, giving the Blues offensive bite from the back half.

    This weekend he takes on the team that selected him with pick 32 at the 2010 draft. As the Western Bulldogs look to hang onto a finals berth, it could be an old Dog which puts the final nail in their coffin.

    A five-week block of football doesn’t make a season, let alone a career, but if the form line remains, Jones could become one of the premier defenders in the competition.

    Likened to Dustin Fletcher, Matthew Scarlett and even Carlton’s own Stephen Silvagni as players who started their careers forward only to go back and make a defensive post their own, Jones is in high company.

    Talk of All Australian selection might be premature, although not out of the realms of possibility with seven games remaining in 2017. If Jones can shut down Tom Hawkins or Joe Daniher in the next two months of footy, would All Australian honours be that much of a stretch?

    Former Sydney defender Ted Richards was done and dusted at Essendon before a move to the Swans reaped rewards with over 200 games, an All Australian selection and a premiership.

    Maybe the Blues have found their own version? And who knows, perhaps a cup to go with it.

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