JASON Saunders remembers a 16-year-old Jamaine Jones embracing a positional change to earn best-on-ground honours in a senior grand final.
The Heywood mentor threw small forward Jones into the middle.
It proved a masterstroke with Jones' dynamic performance against Tyrendarra helping the Lions to the South West District league flag.
Fast forward five years and it has come as no surprise to Saunders that Jones has embraced a second chance in the AFL with West Coast.
Jones, now 21, will play his first game in Eagles colours on Saturday against Port Adelaide at Metricon Stadium.
It comes after he joined the club in March via the Supplemental Selection Period, just months after he was delisted from Geelong after seven games in three seasons.
Saunders coached Jones in 2015. The next year he moved to Hampden league club Portland to test himself at a higher level.
"He was brilliant. He had all the signs he was a class above South West even as a 16-year-old," he said.
"Just his speed, his skill and his balance. For a 16-year-old, his aggression at the ball and his tackling (was great).
"He had a strong will to win the ball and it didn't matter if it was against a first-year senior player or a seasoned veteran. He was going in hard and tackling and riding the bumps."
Saunders said the big stage was where Jones came into his own.
"He got best-on in the 2015 grand final," he said.
"I started him forward. I tried to give him a bit more room to be at home around our key forwards, create the pressure and lock that ball in.
"It was close up until half-time and then we sat and said 'let's get Jamaine on ball'.
"His first few centre clearances were amazing."
Saunders said Jones had the right balance to make it in the AFL.
He is personable but knows when to knuckle down.
"He was one of the kids in the background who would always be joking and having a laugh when you were trying to do a speech or pre-match talk, he'd be the joker, but come game time he was focused," he said.
"He was able to light it up. It was two or three years later when things got a little more serious for him and the AFL were looking at him.
"He thought 'I better pull my head in and have a good crack here' and he's been able to do that."
Greater Western Victoria Rebels talent manager Phil Partington believes Jones' skill-set will suit West Coast's home deck Optus Stadium.
Partington watched Jones blossom into an AFL prospect during his two-year stint in the NAB League in 2015-16.
He believes Jones can seize his second chance at the top level.
"He's on a fast track over in WA that will suit his game and they probably needed an extra small forward," Partington said.
He expects the former Portland and Heywood footballer to create another avenue to goal when he plays his first match for West Coast.
"I think he'll just play his natural game. He brings a lot of pressure and I'd say that's what they have put him in there for, to be a pressure forward," Partington said.
"Hopefully he'll keep the ball inside 50 for more scoring opportunities and he'll bring a bit of enthusiasm too.
"No doubt he'd be a well-liked member of the West Coast Eagles footy club."
Partington said Jones, who grew up in a group home before he was fostered age 10, had overcome obstacles in his life and was now a positive role model.
"I am really happy for Jamaine and his family," he said.
"I got a bit of a heads up yesterday (Thursday) from his player agent that he got the opportunity to play and I just think it's a good news story for a boy who didn't have it work out for him at Geelong footy club who has worked extremely hard to get another opportunity and has moved to the other side of Australia for that.
"He's a good young fella who has gone through a hard time in his life but he's worked through those difficulties and come through the other side a really positive person and a good role model for a lot of people in the Portland and Heywood community."
Fellow Hampden export Marty Gleeson will also make his return to Essendon's best 22 against Carlton on Saturday night.