Revered Melbourne veteran Nathan Jones has confessed to a complex mix of emotions about his big AFL grand final call – and no doubts.
The former Demons captain decided the day after their preliminary final win over Geelong to return to Melbourne from Perth so he could be at the birth of his twins.
Jones knew he had little chance of forcing his way into the side for Saturday’s grand final against the Western Bulldogs.
The 302-game midfielder had only been back in Melbourne a few hours when his wife Jerri gave birth two Sundays ago.
“There’s been a range of emotions, I’d be lying if I was there wasn’t,” he told Fox Footy’s On The Couch.
“How I feel as a player and as an individual and as a competitor, absolutely there is disappointment.
“There’s a whole range of emotions I’m going through, that’s probably take some time to sort of work my way through.
“On the flip side of that, there’s this huge amount of joy and pride in where the club is at now, and the opportunity that presents itself.”
While Jones is the hard-luck story of the grand final, he knows he made the right call.
“It’s been a helluva week,” he said.
“It’s probably one of the best moments I’ve had, watching my two other children meet our two latest children.
“What a moment it was and definitely a decision I will never regret.”
The morning after the preliminary final win, Jones could sense he needed to make the call on whether to stay with the team or fly home.
“In my mind, it was pretty clear,” he said
“I wanted to get home and be part of something pretty bloody special.”
For all the mixed emotions about not being at the game as Melbourne try to break their 57-year premiership drought, Jones said he is particularly excited for the club’s long-suffering fans.
The veteran, a hugely respected figure at Melbourne, also takes comfort in giving himself every chance this season to force his way back into he senior side.
Before Jones left Perth, he told his teammates he was retiring as a player.
He will keep in touch with the team this week and help out however possible.
“Unfortunately footy is a ruthless bloody game and that’s the position I find myself in,” he said.
“Yeah, there’s no doubt I feel disappointed at that, but in the end I couldn’t control that.
“For most of the year my mentality was control everything I could, give as much as I could, commit as strongly as I could – and whatever happens, happens.”