Nathan Jones didn’t win Melbourne’s past two best-and-fairest awards as a shut-down player.
The tough onballer showed a new side to his game last week by restricting Carlton captain Marc Murphy to 18 possessions.
Melbourne, who scored their first AFL win of the season against Carlton, aren’t confirming Jones will play a similar tagging role in Sunday’s MCG clash with Gold Coast.
But Melbourne’s midfield coach Ben Mathews concedes the Suns (2-2 win-loss) boast an array of talent in the middle of the ground.
“That was the first time Nathan has really been thrown into that role,” Mathews told AAP this week.
“We were really really happy with his performance against Murphy.
“We know he can play as an attacking mid. He has the ability to play as a defensive mid.
“This week Gold Coast have… the best mid in the competition in Gary Ablett.”
Mathews, who was a development coach with Gold Coast in 2013, described dual Brownlow Medallist Ablett as a once-in-a-generation player.
“They’ve also got Dion Prestia, David Swallow, Jaeger O’Meara, Jarrod Harbrow on the wing has been playing very good football and Michael Rischitelli is back in form,” Mathews said.
“Not just Nathan Jones but (Demons players) Daniel Cross, Bernie Vince, Dom Tyson, all those players rotating through the middle will have to be right on song.”
Mathews says his in-depth knowledge of the Suns’ players has been handy.
“I know some of the things they do very well and possibly some of the things they’ve been working to improve on,” he said.
Melbourne’s tails are up after their breakthrough win, but the Demons are expecting a strong fightback from the Suns who suffered a 99-point mauling to unbeaten Hawthorn.
“I heard Jaeger O’Meara this week saying they were down in their contested ball and I know they hold that stat very dearly,” Mathews said.
Melbourne are shooting for two successive wins, something they haven’t achieved since 2011.
Mathews, a premiership player under coach Paul Roos at Sydney in 2005, says the enthusiasm of Roos in his first season with the Demons has been magnificent.