Demons veteran Jones to miss AFL decider

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Melbourne stalwart Nathan Jones will return to Victoria to be with his pregnant wife and miss the Demons' shot at breaking their 57-year AFL premiership drought.

The veteran midfielder, who has played 302 games for Melbourne - the second-most in club history - will leave the Demons' Perth hub and return to his family.

Jones' wife Jerri is preparing to give birth to twins.

The 33-year-old has not featured in the Demons' senior line-up since round 15, when he was an unused sub against Essendon.

But Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin has talked about Jones' chances of a recall, as recently as after their 83-point thumping of Geelong in Friday night's preliminary final.

Melbourne will enter the grand final at Optus Stadium on September 25 against either Port Adelaide or the Western Bulldogs as hot favourites to claim their first flag since 1964.

It will also be the Demons' first appearance in a grand final since 2000, when they suffered a 60-point loss to Essendon.

Jones, a former captain of the Demons, has been an integral member of the club on and off the field since debuting in 2006.

He played finals in just his seventh and eighth career games, but had to wait another 12 years before tasting more post-season action.

Melbourne captain Max Gawn praised Jones for setting the club up for a period of success.

"He won't be remembered for the Melbourne of old, he'll be remembered for changing Melbourne - that's definitely the way I will remember him," Gawn said on Saturday.

"If we have seen the last of him, I'm not sure what his plans are for next year.

"He's not going to put the pressure on (the club), he's going to stand up and say I want to be there for the birth of my twins.

"He's a bigger man than me; it's a really tough decision.

"He also wants to see a flag but obviously one thing comes first in this incredible situation we're in with COVID and borders."

Jones stayed loyal to Melbourne during one of the most tumultuous decades in the club's history when he could have chased success elsewhere.

His career will likely finish with 101 wins, 198 defeats and three draws.

He is revered at the Dees for helping set them up for this month's tilt at a drought-breaking flag likely more success to follow.

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