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Demons driven for shot at MCG premiership

Morgan Hancock/AAP PHOTOS

Melbourne players are "absolutely driven" by the prospect of hoisting the AFL premiership cup in front of loyal supporters at the MCG, former captain Nathan Jones says.

The Demons broke a 57-year drought in 2021 when they claimed their long-awaited flag at Perth's Optus Stadium.

The victory over the Western Bulldogs was one of two consecutive grand finals played outside Victoria during the COVID-19 pandemic, following the 2020 decider at the Gabba.

Lockdowns and interstate border closures meant many long-suffering Demons supporters were only able to witness the historic triumph on television.

"The only thing really missing from 2021 was the fact that Melbourne was in COVID lockdown and none of our supporters could get across there (to Perth)," Jones said.

"They're absolutely driven to get back to being a part of the grand final again at the MCG and hopefully being able to hold up the cup officially in front of all our die-hard fans that have been through so much.

"After such a long period of time where we saw no success, 50-plus years, how that unfolded for our fan base and in particular our members is something that absolutely motivates the group."

Jones, too, was in Melbourne during the 2021 grand final, having left Perth the day after the preliminary final to be at the birth of his twins.

The club stalwart had little chance of forcing his way into the team at that point, but had been crucial to lifting the Demons out of a dark hole during his 302-game career.

Jones believes Simon Goodwin's men are better placed to contend for the flag this September than they were last year, when he watched in retirement as they bombed out of the finals in straight sets.

"Maybe in some regard last year they sort of mistimed their run a little bit but I feel like they're building towards some pretty solid form," Jones said.

"Bar the injury to one of my best mates 'Melky' (Jake Melksham), I think they're in pretty good shape."

Melksham tore an anterior cruciate ligament during the round-24 victory over Sydney, in what could prove to be the final act of his career.

Jones believes the 32-year-old, who is without a contract for next year, still has an important role to play for the Demons in September.

"He'll be able to contribute in a really positive way off the field once he gets through the emotion of the first few days but in the end, in some regard, the boys will want to achieve something for him," Jones said.