The iconic Sidney Bernstein scene from Beverly Hills Cop 2 will undoubtedly be the theme of Zak Jones later this season, if the Swans can't tie down their emerging rebounding defender Zak Jones. It's a great scene, one of the best from the movie franchise, and perfectly reflects the situation, and the way other clubs will approach him.
His form has been ridiculously good for a while now, including a superb finals series, and it's just a matter of time before the circling sharks try to take a bite. I can picture it now, any team he speaks to, except 200 dollars won't be 200 dollars, it'll be a lot more.
"Is there something in this office that I have, that I could hand to you, and that would make you kind of forget that you're holding those... contract papers from the Swans," said the recruiter.
"What are you trying to say sir," replied Jones.
"Like you'd be holding something in that hand, and this hand, you'd forget about," said the recruiter, looking at his left hand.
"This hand you'd be concentrating on, that hand you'd go what, what did I have there, I don't even remember," the recruiter said, shaking his right hand, as if he were dropping papers.
"Oh you mean, like if I had um, $600 thousand dollars in this hand," Jones replied.
"Ouch, let go of my arm, $600 thousand dollars, ouch, please, I'm robbing you!" the recruiter replied.
Yep, just like that, gone, poof. Wouldn't be the least bit surprised if Melbourne threw a whole bucket of cash and a little extra sauce on the side.
What is his real worth, in monetary terms? It's hard to gauge with his age and experience, but if you inclined to take a punt on anything worth while, at this point of the season, you'd be better off staking $50 on Jones to win the club best & fairest than anything else. It's hard to fathom at times that he's 22, but more so, he's played just 38 games in 4 seasons.
I said back in 2015, when he first started playing regularly, and the signs were there that he could certainly play, that if he was half as good as his brother I'd be happy. He has well and truly exceeded my expectations, and he's not far off his brother now. Imagine this guy after 100 games, he'll be ripping teams to shred. His attack on the ball, and even more fierce attack on the player is fantastic to see, especially from a team that tends to play on the polite side, apologetically tackling, more than throwing bodies to the ground.
"Oh good sir I do apologise for this rather inconvenient activity of rolling around in the mud. I do sincerely hope you'll forgive me. I shall no longer impede your progress. Good day sir."
We don't know what his contract terms are at the Swans, but he's been there a while and fought his way to the top, overcoming set back after set back to prove his worth. He's played every game this season, on the back of 16 last season, and his form has been top notch, borderline elite.
His output this season, compared to his career, has increased dramatically across the board. 2016 was previously his best season in his short career, averaging 14.8 disposals per game, along with 3.25 tackles and 6.57 contested possessions. This season he's taken it to another level. He's not winning the most disposals on average, but he's arguably the most damaging.
The match against Brisbane was by far his best game of his fledgling career, providing the run and dash the Swans have sorely missed since the days Tadgh Kennelly and Rhyce Shaw, taking on his opponents and beating them cold. When he did it in the first quarter
His averages have sky rocketed as well, even though he's rarely playing midfield. He's up 3 kicks, 3 marks and 4 handballs, 22 disposals up from 14. While his tackle and rebound 50 numbers are similar, he's lifted his inside 50 to 4 per game, 1 more clearance, 2 more contested possessions and 5 uncontested possessions. He's also averaging 2 bounces more per game and it's providing the Swans with a lot of run and dash off the backline.
He was fantastic on the weekend, but it hasn't been a sudden rise to the top, a greatest hit never to be repeated. This guy can seriously play. The way he split the pack, sprinted inside 50 and drilled a goal home, while ignore Franklin the pocket was phenomenal. That goal summed up his game in one sequence; all-action, non-stop, 120 minute thrill ride.
But that wasn't even his finest moment. He set Cunningham up with a shot on goal, which he converted, after another pack-busting run early in the 2nd quarter. Tucked the ball, easily dodged the yellow witches cones and put it into space in front of Florent. Florent was good enough to give it over the top to Cunningham, but once again, Jones ignored Franklin running forward. How many times have we seen over the years, someone dishing off to Franklin in a pack, only to turn it over.
But wait, there's more. That still wasn't his best moment, not even when he ran off a tackle in the midfield. His best moment was flying the flag for Mills when he collected a Lions player high in a marking contest. The Lions player jumped up, fronted up Mills and the first player in was Jones, dragging the Lions down to the ground, starting a fracas and losing his shirt in the process.
That's the passion that's been missing, and while the fire from Jones has always been there, it's as if the team has been green light to get stuck in. Hawthorn played unsociable football for years and played in four consecutive grand finals, winning three. Were they the best team in history? No, I don't think so, but they did play one of the best brands of finals football that you'll see, at least at the time. They were fierce and unrelenting on the man, teetering on the edge of what was acceptable, with Lake and Hodge constantly setting the tone.
Greater Western Sydney are unsurprisingly playing the same style of football, given their pedigree and Hawthorn connection, but more importantly, their senior players leading the way. The last three encounters with GWS, the Swans have been found wanting in the physical department. It was disappointing to see Kennedy knocked out in the finals, and Tippett dumped twice with little reaction from the Swans. It was even more frustrating to see a somewhat limp reaction to Mumford throwing his weight around again.
That's why seeing Jones drag a guy off our beleaguered young defender, drag him to the ground, and start a melee, was really good to see. It's hard not to love him, the way he goes about it, his passion and desire to always win, and his fierce attack. He's improving every week and he's going to be an incredibly important player for the Swans in years to come.
Predictably though, when someone shows a bit of form for the Swans, or if they're out of contract, certainly in the last two to three seasons, they're suddenly "up for grabs". Mick Warner certainly suggests that its the case with Jones he appeared on Foxtel's On The Couch, and he's not wrong. He's a player a lot of clubs would love to have, especially those that struggle in the midfield or half-back flank. He's not a shut-down back pocket player like Nick Smith, he's going to give up a few goals in that situation, but he rebounds as hard as anyone else, certainly in the same vein as Aliir, Heath Shaw and old Rhyce Shaw.
“Victorian clubs are certainly circling,” Warner told On The Couch.
“The Swans, as we know, are quite tight on the salary cap and he’d be a pretty attractive offer at just 22.”
“The Saints have got to go after him, Richmond have got to go after him — they’ve got a couple of first round picks,” King told On The Couch.
They forget that a massive pay deal was just agreed to, so there's space in the cap to bump him up to $500 thousand if they were inclined to do so. It's just whether or not Jones wants to stay with Sydney. He's tasted success, played in a grand final and he'll be playing finals for most of his career. If he wants more money, he can get it elsewhere, and that's what it really boils down to. Will he be a one-club-player like Parker and Hannebery, or will he be a mercenary like Mitchell. If there's one club that I know for sure will throw money at him, it's Hawthorn.
Off the back of his best career game, 27 disposals and arguably best on ground, he spoke to Sydney Swans yesterday at their recovery session, and was upbeat about the Swans' prospects for the season, and reinforced the need to keep their aggression up. They've set the benchmark for what's expected, week in, week out, the bare minimum if you will.
"They [the losses] are still in the back of your mind always, but it's good to get a win," Jones said on Monday.
"Hopefully that brings confidence for the rest of the year and we can use that to build momentum."
He briefly stole the show from Franklin with his dazzling midfield busting goal.
"That's got to be the best goal I've kicked," said Jones, who had only booted six in his 37 previous senior appearances.
"I was thinking about handballing to Buddy [Franklin] and then I was 'I'm just going to take the shot'."
It's great to see a played take responsibility and ownership when the situation demands it. There were two times he straight up ignored Franklin and the Swans scored two goals. The pass to Florent, and the bursting run from midfield. He still set Franklin up in the 3rd with a dink kick over the top when he marked inside the forward 50.
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