The coronavirus-enforced break in the AFL season has given Nathan Jones an early glimpse of retired life and the Melbourne veteran doesn't like it one bit.
Jones, who turned 32 in January, was kept waiting by the Demons last year, eventually signing a one-year deal to continue his 286-game career days after their desperately disappointing season finished.
It remains to be seen how this season will play out, if at all, but Jones remains driven to go around again next year regardless.
"This has only given me a hint of what it would be like if footy isn't there anymore," Jones said.
"And I'm already missing the routine, the chance to interact with the boys and that connection you get day-to-day, it's something you absolutely miss.
"It's played an important part in my life and I don't want to see that go just yet.
"I still feel like physically and mentally I'm in a space where I can perform at the level.
"I can't put a date on it but I'll be pushing for as long as I can."
Jones, who gave up the co-captaincy in the off-season, enjoyed a strong preparation but was ruled out of Melbourne's season-opener with Achilles soreness.
The Demons had been widely tipped to come out firing after their insipid 2019 campaign, but didn't kick a goal in the first quarter as West Coast set up a 27-point win.
Jones doesn't feel too much can be taken from the performance given the bizarre scenario where the players knew before the game that the season would be halted.
"We haven't even had a chance to review that game," he said.
"Since then we haven't actually got back together as a group, unfortunately, due to some of the issues that have transpired.
"The players would be disappointed that we didn't get the result but there were some bigger issues at play and we'll use this time to reset.
"We're still very confident in the work and the time that we put in over off-season."
Australian Associated Press