|V/AFL Clubs||St Kilda|
After being rejected by both Collingwood and Melbourne because, at just 66kg, he was considered too lightweight for league football, it proved to be third time lucky for Austinn Jones when he was picked up by St Kilda at number 48 in the 1994 National Draft. He made his AFL debut the following year, playing most of his early football as a crumbing forward, before being tried on a wing in 1996. Boasting good ball skills, scintillating pace, and considerable courage, he proved a decided asset for the Saints as they developed into a competition pace-setter after several seasons of mediocrity. In 1997, St Kilda made the grand final, and during the opening term, with his side well on top, Jones capped a marvellous downfield run with one of the goals of the year, only for opponents Adelaide to hit back after half time to score a comfortable win. His fine grand final performance (he was widely regarded as St Kilda's best player) epitomised a memorable year which saw him named as a wingman in the AFL All Australian team.
In the years after 1997 Jones's form gradually dipped, and indeed he tended to make the headlines more for some questionable off field behaviour than for his football. In 2001, however, he was moved to the half back line with immediate telling effect, as his pace, verve and superb disposal skills made him one of the Saints' most conspicuous performers. He earned selection as an AFL All Australian for the second time in 2004, but the following year, after 226 AFL games and 127 goals in eleven seasons, and having only just turned 29 years of age, he surprisingly elected to retire.
Author - John Devaney