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SOV - Son of Vin...

Jarrad Waite


Career : 2003 - 2014
Debut : Round 1, 2003 vs Sydney, aged 20 years, 53 days
Carlton Player No. 1062
Games : 184
Goals : 252
Last Game : Round 23, 2014 vs Essendon, aged 31 years, 201 days
Guernsey No. 30
Height : 191 cm (6 ft. 3 in.)
Weight : 87 kg (13 stone, 10 lbs.)
DOB : 4 February, 1983
AFL Rising Star Nominee: Round 10, 2003
Club Leading Goalkicker: 2014


It is always gratifying for a football fan to see the son of a former star come up through the ranks and make a name for himself in his own right. When Jarrad Waite was recruited by the Blues at selection number 46 in the 2001 National Draft, high hopes were held for the rangy son of Carlton’s 1970 and ‘72 Premiership defender, Vin Waite. In the decade after his arrival at Princes Park, Jarrad carved out a fine career for the Blues throughout turbulent times, despite an extensive list of injuries (and the odd suspension) that cost him many games.

Waite came to the Blues from the Murray Bushrangers in the elite TAC Cup Under-18 competition, after playing his junior football at Benalla. He was presented with the same guernsey number 30 that his father had worn, but then had to cool his heels with the Reserves team for the entire 2002 season, as Carlton and its supporters endured the worst year in the club’s history. For the first time ever, the Navy Blues finished last on the AFL ladder, and collected the wooden spoon.

In 2003, Jarrad got the opportunity he had been working hard for when he was one of three new faces selected in Carlton’s senior team for the first match of the season against Sydney at the Olympic Stadium. Starting on the bench, he was eased into action in short bursts, but had little influence as his team was outclassed by a cohesive Swans combination. Despite that inauspicious beginning, it was soon obvious to all that SOV (Son of Vin) had a touch of class. He was quick, very good in the air, tackled well and generally made the right decisions. Playing wide across the centre in a tall wingman’s role, he kicked his first career goal in round 2 against Collingwood, before confirming his potential with a Rising Star nomination in Carlton’s defeat by the Fremantle Dockers at Subiaco in round 10.

Then, just as his career began to gain traction, Jarrad and his family were devastated by the shock death of his father from a heart attack (at the age of just 54) in July, 2003. While everyone who knew Vin struggled to cope with the news, Jarrad insisted on playing against Melbourne the following weekend in his dad’s honour, and did Vinny proud with his best game to date. His character shone through that afternoon, and his emotional strength was obvious for all to see.

Carlton narrowly avoided a second successive wooden spoon in 2003, only to be heavily penalised by the AFL after being found guilty of rorting the League's salary cap rules. Fined more than $900,000 and all but excluded from the National Draft for two years, the Blues were suddenly plunged into crisis. One small bright spot in the gloom came when Jarrad was named Carlton’s Best First Year Player, giving shell-shocked fans at least a glimmer of hope that something could be recovered from the wreckage. Sadly, those hopes proved fruitless in the short term, because Waite’s third season was derailed before it had even begun. After suffering stress fractures in a foot during pre-season training, he was absent from Carlton’s senior side until round 12, 2004, and managed only nine matches for the year.

In 2005, when he did complete a full pre-season program, the benefits came immediately. Moved to the half-forward line, Jarrad used his athleticism and long arms to become one of the Blues prime forward targets. He rose to the challenge of playing at full forward in Brendan Fevola's absence through suspension in the round 6 clash against Hawthorn, and kicked a then career-best five goals in an outstanding effort that brought him three Brownlow Medal votes. After that, he missed only one game all year, booted 36 goals, and reached his 50-game milestone in the final game of the season. Having finished fifth in Carlton’s Best and Fairest award, he was selected in the AFL squad for the International Rules series against Ireland.

Much was expected of Waite in 2006, but another pre-season mishap saw him start the year underdone, and a jarred knee at the midway point of the season restricted him to 13 matches and18 goals for the year. His impact was sorely missed, as Carlton’s goal-scoring potency fell dramatically and condemned the Blues to another dreaded wooden spoon.

Season 2007 started on a far more optimistic note both on and off the field. With a new President in Richard Pratt, a new CEO (Greg Swann) and new captain in Lance Whitnall, the Blues also broke new ground by appointing a 10-man leadership group (including Waite) to serve under ‘Big Red’ on the field. Carlton began a pivotal year by beating Brisbane in the Grand Final of the pre-season NAB Cup, and Jarrad found himself in a new role at centre half-back.

He stayed in defence through the early rounds of the season proper, putting in a string of creditable performances against the likes of Essendon’s Scott Lucas and St Kilda captain Nick Riewoldt. By round 9 however, he was back in attack and combining well with Brad Fisher and Brendan Fevola. In round 13 against Fremantle at Subiaco Oval, in the absence Whitnall due to injury, Waite was given the honour of captaining the Blues for the first time. At season’s end he had added another 22 games and 28 goals to his career stats, and announced his arrival on the top shelf of the game by finishing a third in the voting for the John Nicholls Medal.

The bombshell recruitment of former West Coast Premiership captain Chris Judd by Carlton in 2008 forced some inevitable changes in the team, including Waite’s return to defence. While the Blues at last began climbing up the ladder, Jarrad settled into the key defensive post, and formed the basis of a cohesive back six. In May, he was selected to represent Victoria in the Hall of Fame tribute match against the Dream Team, and in round 16, brought up his 100th senior game for Carlton in a spine-tingling, 2-point loss to Sydney at Docklands Stadium. Capping off another good year, he signed a 3-year contract extension at the end of the season.

However, just when the future looked bright, Jarrad was struck down by that most feared of all football injuries – a torn anterior cruciate knee ligament – in Carlton’s loss to Adelaide at AAMI Stadium in round 9, 2009. Although a radical new procedure to cut the usual 12-month recovery time was available, Waite decided on the conventional method, and sat out the rest of the year as the Blues played finals football for the first time since 2001 in losing an Elimination Final thriller to Brisbane at the Gabba.

Eventually, Blues fans welcomed Waite back when the 2010 AFL season began with Carlton meeting Richmond at the MCG on a balmy Thursday evening in late March. There was a huge roar when he took a stretching mark at full-forward, and kicked truly to set the Blues on their way to a comfortable win over the Tigers. It looked like Jarrad was ready to pick up where he left off – but it wasn’t long before he was in trouble from a completely different angle – the umpires.

Always a good tackler and keen to dish out a solid hip and shoulder when an opportunity presented itself, Waite overstepped the mark and was reported on four separate occasions between rounds 8 and 17. He was cleared of two of the charges, found guilty of the other two, and suspended for a total of four matches. On each occasion, his defence was that he had hit the man with a hard, legitimate bump, and any contact to the head was accidental. The tribunal, ever more wary of public opinion, didn’t agree.

Even so, having survived a turbulent, yet memorable eighth season of AFL football, Waite experienced the thrill of finals football at long last on a Sunday afternoon in early September at ANZ Stadium. In his 131st game for Carlton, and on the same ground where his career had begun in 2003, Jarrod worked hard in defence and attack, and kicked three goals as the Navy Blues lost the Elimination Final to Sydney by 5 points in a cracking contest that ended in heartbreak for every Bluebagger.

Heading into 2011, there was plenty of optimism around Princes Park, especially after the Blues lost only one of their first six matches. In round 7, Carlton’s big match against St Kilda was played on a Monday night at Docklands, and Jarrad’s 21 possessions and 12 marks were a big factor in the Blues’ narrow victory. In round 9 at the same venue, he took 11 marks and kicked two goals in an equally-tight loss to Geelong.

By the mid-point of an excellent season it seemed like Waite was back to his best – before it all went pear-shaped when he tore a hamstring during Carlton’s demolition of Port Adelaide in early June. Sidelined for three games, he returned to the fray with 13 marks and 3 goals against Richmond in round 15, but the very next week he was hit hard in a marking duel during Carlton’s loss to the Western Bulldogs, and the resulting damage to his hip ended his season. After undergoing surgery, he tried desperately hard to regain match fitness, but ran out of time. Despite his absence, the Blues fought their way through to the Semi Finals, and went down by 3 points to the West Coast Eagles in a thriller at Subiaco.

In 2012, Waite was retained in Carlton’s 8-man leadership group as the team again looked forward to playing a big part in the finals. Sure enough, after three rounds the rampant Blues had smashed Richmond, Brisbane and Collingwood by big margins and were sitting on top of the ladder – then the football gods turned their backs, and the season crashed in ruins. Jarrad began the year impressively and was providing a lively target at centre half-forward until round 7, when he badly damaged his back in a loss to St Kilda, and was sidelined for three months. Without him, Carlton tumbled down the ladder to tenth by late July, so his comeback for the crucial round 19 clash against Sydney was certainly welcomed – especially because it was also his 150th senior game.

Stationed at full-forward on that Sunday afternoon under the roof at Docklands Stadium, Waite didn’t take long to announce his return, taking a terrific contested mark and kicking truly to open Carlton’s scoring. But the Swans were always in control, and the 22-point gap between the teams at the final siren was a just result. Still. Carlton fans took some heart from Jarrad’s match statistics of 16 disposals, 8 marks, 5 tackles and three goals.

Three weeks later, Carlton’s season imploded in the wake of an inexplicable loss to the Gold Coast Suns on a cold, windy Saturday night at Carrara Stadium. Listless, inaccurate and just plain awful, the team was outplayed by the Suns and should have been beaten by more than 12 points. They surely would have been, too - but for Waite’s contribution of 17 disposals, 9 marks, 6 tackles and two goals.

That defeat, and the fact that Carlton didn’t qualify for the finals, brought the curtain down on Brett Ratten’s six-year tenure as senior coach of Carlton. From 2013, the Navy Blues were to be guided by former West Coast and Collingwood Premiership coach Mick Malthouse, and led on the field by a five-man leadership group that again included Waite.

Once more however, the football gods refused to smile on the Blues’ swingman. First, an early-season calf injury kept him out of Carlton’s senior team until round 6, when his 10 marks and two goals sparked the Blues to a narrow win over Melbourne. Then afterwards, he was cited by the Match Review Panel for head-butting a Demon opponent (only just), and the self-righteous shredding of his character by the media was more damning than the one-week suspension handed down by the AFL Tribunal.

Recalled for round 8, Jarrad then played a succession of consistently good games, as he and Lachie Henderson alternated through the key positions in defence and attack while Carlton clawed back their way back into finals contention after a rocky start to the season. In early June, the Blues met Essendon in a Friday night head-liner, and Waite treated the huge 80,000-plus crowd to a dazzling exhibition of forward play. Jarrad chopped up the Bomber defence that night, posting five majors in the first half, and finishing with seven. Astonishingly, Carlton ran out of steam late in proceedings, to be beaten by a kick.

Three weeks later, Waite damaged his left knee against Collingwood, putting him out of action for another month. He was back again for round 20, and played out the season to be among the Blues’ better contributors in both of the team’s finals – a sensational Elimination Final victory over Richmond, and a dour Semi Final loss to the 2012 premiers, Sydney.

In 2014 however, Waite’s future was called into question when Carlton imploded yet again. After losing the first four games of the season, Malthouse’s team staggered through the year to finish 13th on the ladder, and Jarrad was among those singled out for a lack of consistency. In 16 games he had kicked 29 goals to win Carlton’s Leading Goal-kicker Award, but that total was the lowest for many years – since 1997 in fact, when Anthony Koutoufides kicked 28 majors and Carlton finished eleventh.

When Jarrad was dropped from the team for four matches midway through the year, rumours of a rift between coach and player soon emerged. Both parties denied that their relationship was strained, however Waite’s reluctance to sign a new one-year contract only added fuel to the fire. As a 31 year-old unrestricted free agent with ten years of experience, he was free to switch clubs if he wished, and his strong finish to the season had attracted interest from a number of rival teams including Fremantle and North Melbourne.

Many Carlton fans - through social media and online forums - implored Jarrad to stay, before he agreed to join North as soon as the 2014 Free Agency Period began in October. The Shinboners had trumped Carlton by offering Jarrad the two-year deal his manager had requested, although Waite himself stated that the opportunity to play out his career with a genuine Premiership contender was the principle reason for his departure from Princes Park. Waite would play at North Melbourne for the next few seasons and play a further 59 games and kick 122 goals. His career totaled 243 games and 374 goals.

Milestones

50 Games: Round 22, 2005 vs North Melbourne
100 Games: Round 16, 2008 vs Sydney
100 Goals: Round 22, 2007 vs Melbourne
150 Games: Round 19, 2012 vs Sydney
200 Goals: Round 9, 2013 vs Brisbane
250 Goals: Round 21, 2014 vs Geelong

Career Highlights

2003 - AFL Rising Star Nominee
2003 - Best First Year Player
2005 - 5th Best & Fairest
2005 - International Rules Series
2007 - Leadership Group
2007 - Pre-Season Premiership Player
2007 - 3rd Best and Fairest
2008 - Victorian State Player: 2008 Hall of Fame Game
2008 - 7th Best and Fairest
2012 - Leadership Group
2013 - Leadership Group
2014 - Club Leading Goalkicker

Articles: Waiting to play Finals Footy | X-Blues: Blues reps playing finals for new Clubs

Blueseum: Summary of playing statistics for Jarrad Waite | Career Breakdown | Waite's Blueseum Image Gallery

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