COURTNEY Jones had a very different off-season to most of her AFLW teammates.
Instead of training during lockdown, Jones flew up to Cairns to play for her old side - the Cairns Saints - and stay with her family.
If being able to live a lockdown-free life wasn’t good enough, Jones played in an undefeated season and a winning grand final, topping off a memorable experience.
“I think I came in Round 5 and from there we just dominated the rest of the year: there wasn’t a game where anyone came close,” Jones said.
“We won the first final and went straight to the grand final where we played the Manunda Hawks again and we ran over the top of them after half time.”
Jones played a pivotal role in the Saints line-up all year, alongside fellow VFLW Blue Akayla Peterson.
Both led the way in the grand final, with Jones kicking two goals: however, she was just pipped by her very familiar teammate.
“Akayla played really consistently, usually we would swap between the inside mid and forward, it worked really well,” she said.
“We did that in the VFLW as well on the wing and forward so it just worked perfectly for us.
“She beat me by one vote for the best on ground in the grand final, I’ll never live that down.”
Now returning to Melbourne and the AFLW pre-season, Jones is hopeful that she can take some of her newfound confidence and freedom on the field into 2022 with the Game Changers.
“I learnt a lot more about my game up there: I learnt that if I work hard, I can have more time with the ball, I can stay more composed,” she said.
“It’s hard going through seasons and not getting picked and unfortunately sometimes the success of your season is whether you get game time or not.
“I think my confidence is ready to go and I think this year is going to be a very different year for me.”