Launceston has lifted the lid on a star VFL recruit three weeks out from finals.
Former Tasmanian under-18 captain Tim Jones will make his Blues debut in Saturday's home clash with North Hobart, which will also double as 2019 co-captain Jay Blackberry's 200th.
The 23-year-old midfielder arrived in the state about six weeks ago and has since completed two weeks' isolation and played for the Blues' development league outfit.
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Launceston coach Mitch Thorp said he was excited to see his former South Launceston teammate line up in seniors after amassing three goals and 40 disposals in a big win over Lauderdale last Saturday.
"We haven't told too many people, we've just let him get himself healthy and ready to go and he'll debut for the club on the weekend," Thorp said.
"He's a big strong bull who kicks the ball really well and he's really aggressive at the footy so he'll give some support to Jobi [Harper] and Fletcher [Seymour] and Jay and co in there and give us some more experience around the ball.
"I coached him at South Launceston so I've had a really strong relationship with him over a long period. He's played VFL over the last few years and with the COVID situation returned home due to work circumstances and he's ended up at Launceston which we're really pleased about.
"We've been communicating with him since the start of the year and it looked likely he was going to return to Tasmania so we kept the communication lines open."
A former Scotch Oakburn student, Jones was part of a 2014 Tasmanian talent pool that also included Fremantle 100-gamer Lachie Weller, Lauderdale co-captain Josh McGuinness and Werribee star Matt Hanson.
He played a season with Western Storm in 2014 before departing for Southport in Queensland and has since played several seasons with Northern Blues in the VFL.
He joins North Hobart forward Julian Dobosz and Kingborough midfielder Mackenzie Willis as high-profile recruits making long-awaited TSL returns midway through the season.
"It's really positive for the competition to have particularly the Tasmanians returning home," Thorp said.
"Those three guys are all Tasmanian guys so it enhances our product, it enhances the competition and moving forward we get to retain these guys in the comp."
Jones will wear the #89 guernsey on Saturday, joining ruckman Tim Auckland (#90) and Dylan Riley (#88) to don unusually heavy numbers in the past two seasons.
Bridgenorth recruit Casey Walker-Russell, who was an emergency last weekend, has inherited the #88 jumper this season with Hudson Medal shoe-in Riley shifting to the more traditional #16.
Tim Jones to wear #89 for Launceston this week and join a centre square which already features Tim Auckland’s 90. Will make a combined midfield total of 210 with Harper (11) and Dakin (20). North Launny has a midfield total of 38 with Lee, BCG, Whitford & Walsh #uselesstslstats— Hamish Geale (@hrgeale) September 15, 2020
'IT WAS A HARD DAY AT THE OFFICE'
Meanwhile, Thorp says his side won't make drastic changes following last weekend's thumping 10-goal loss to Lauderdale.
The coach and star forward backed his side to put their "worst loss of the season" behind them going into Saturday's 2v7 clash.
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"It was a hard day at the office - several factors played a part but ultimately we just got beaten by a better side on the day and that can happen in footy," Thorp said.
"Particularly at Lauderdale, they play their home ground very well so we need to lick our wounds quickly and bounce back this week at home against North Hobart.
"That was our fourth game in 17 days.
"But we won't be throwing the baby out with the bathwater, we've had a very strong season and we've done a lot of really good work early in the year to get us into good position leading into finals so we won't be shifting too much."