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Reborn Jones makes his mark

Nathan Schmook, AFL Media  June 12, 2017 7:59 AM

New-look Jones sets the tone An invigorated Liam Jones shines in new role as a key defender.

REBORN Carlton defender Liam Jones is likely to have a long stint to prove himself in his new role and earn a new contract as the Blues wait on scans for injured backman Alex Silvagni.

Jones made a magnificent return to AFL level on Sunday in Carlton's upset win against Greater Western Sydney, shutting down key forward Jon Patton and showing all the traits of an accomplished backman.

The former forward, who was unable to make an impact at Carlton in two seasons in that role, has timed his return to senior level well, with key defender Sam Rowe (knee) sidelined for the season and Silvagni set to undergo scans on a twisted left knee.

The 26-year-old has been building form in the backline for the Northern Blues this season, and Bolton said his ability to transfer that to senior level was significant. 

"Some of his aerial contests to kill the ball and get a big fist on it, that's a great step for him and us as a footy club," Bolton said after the one-point win at Etihad Stadium. 

"That change of role back at the Northern Blues has now shown some little signs in his first game back at AFL.

"(Coach) Josh Fraser and his crew at the Northern Blues, and Dale Amos, who's our defensive coach, have put a lot of time and effort in, but more importantly, 'Jonesy' himself."

Jones faced an uncertain future this season after 83 career games, and 17 games for Carlton in two years that netted just 16 goals.    

Bolton said a positive approach to his new role had been crucial, with Jones' intercept marking (four in the first half) and rebounding (five for the match) making him look like a natural in the back half.  

"You've got to have an attitude to want to try something new and to change and grow and have a real growth mindset and be really blue skies about it," Bolton said.

"He had that. Without that, no matter how much coaching we have it won't work. 

"Full credit to him to embrace that. It's only one game – and he'll understand and appreciate that – but it's good signs."

Watch Bolton's post-match press conference

Sunday's win was reward for effort, Bolton said, after a three-week period that saw the Blues give up fourth-quarter leads against St Kilda and North Melbourne, and a third-quarter lead against Fremantle.  

The Giants held the lead three times in the fourth quarter on Sunday, but Carlton was able to draw level through a Levi Casboult point, and then get its nose in front through a missed running shot by Zac Fisher.

"Every win just adds that little bit more self-belief that they're following a system and if they do it for each other and within that system we'll get results," Bolton said.

"Today, I thought our players decided to really dig deep for that last minute to be able to get the result."

Not worried about where the Blues fit in the bigger picture this season, Bolton said his focus was on the way his team is playing and making sure young players continue to develop.

He praised the club's leaders for their consistency this season and said players like brilliant 150-gamer Matthew Kreuzer, who was arguably best on ground, were playing an important dual role. 

"I think our leaders have embraced the role of trying to grow that young talent as quickly as they can, and the responsibility they've got to not only grow the talent but also perform," the coach said.