On Tuesday, Jarrad Waite announced that 2018 will be his last in the AFL. The 35-year-old will play game 244 on Sunday and has entertained fans and teammates alike. Three of his closest teammates across the journey share their experiences with the athletic forward.
He called himself an enigma in his press conference yesterday but I didn’t know Waitey had a vocabulary that large! He was an extremely talented player who showed flashes of brilliance and was up and down at times with injury.
I used to play on Waitey every training session and I was certainly happy he was on our side for most of the time. He had a huge work-rate and endurance but never had to work too hard on the endurance stuff and his diet was never his forte, that’s for sure.
When people ask if he got the most out of himself or not, I like to think he’s just an easy-going character who needed to have fun. He needed to enjoy his time, go surfing and do all that stuff to keep himself sane and not be too caught up in the inner workings and politics of a footy club.
I first met Waitey when I was drafted in 2009 as a rookie. We had a time-trial around Princes Park on my first day so I looked around to see who I’d try and run with and test myself against. I saw Waitey, who wasn’t looking in the best nick — he must’ve had a good off-season — so I thought I’d hang onto the back of him.
I was going well until about halfway through when he just looked at me and said, ‘Anyway mate, I’m off,’ and sprinted the last half. He ended up coming into the top few and I finished in the bottom few.
From that point on, I thought you can never judge Waitey on the way he’s looking. He’s one of those supremely talented individuals who has great genetics.
We clicked straight away because he’s right into his surfing and I was a kid who grew up by the beach in WA and when Lachie Henderson came in as well, the three of us became close.
Waitey had a place down in Sorrento so we’d go down there for a bit of a surf and the big fella loved going out for breakfast, which suited me perfectly. We also went away to Bali together where I broke my wrist and he broke his hand on the same day — that was an interesting conversation with the club.
He’s a joker of a guy. Not much fazes him on or off the field. I guess you’d say he’s outgoing because I don’t think you’d put yourself through a show like Wag Nation if you weren’t, although I don’t think he knew what he was getting into when Jackie put their hand up.
He doesn’t live the most glamorous lifestyle and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him wear a piece of clothing without dog hair on it.
Conversely, when we were on the field, he was one of the most competitive people out there. We’d play on each other during practice matches and, despite being best mates off the field, would nearly end up bashing one another.
My favourite memory on the field was a goal he kicked against Richmond in Round 1 one year. It was a check side from 35 out on the boundary. That just sums Waitey up. He took a good mark on the boundary, went back, played on without hesitation and, in front of 80,000 people, nailed it. Not many players would choose a right-foot check side from that situation.
The occasion never fazed him. He would play the same in a local competition as he would at the top level.
Off the field, the thing I remember most about Waitey was how he’d butcher the English language but it didn’t stop him from trying.
One day, Brett Ratten pulled him out in front of the group during an opposition analysis meeting. He was trying to explain where the opposition would use the ball more. There were three options; corridor, wing and boundary.
Waitey was asked what percentage they would use each and said to Ratts, ‘I reckon it’d be 80 per cent corridor, 20 per cent wing and 10 per cent boundary’. He just had no idea he butchered the maths.
He used to, and still does, love the video game Call Of Duty. Something that always used to weird me out, too, was his subway order — he loves a meatball sub with crab meat. That is just the most disgusting thing of all time.
He’s been around a fair while, 17 years to be exact, so it’s a testament to him because he’s had some troubles with his body over the journey. To play for 17 years and 240 games is an awesome effort. It’s one he should be very proud of.
Waitey was one of the first I met when I got to Carlton. I walked in and he had his pup, Benny, who’s a big Leonburger, in the office so we were friends from pretty much straight away.
I don’t think Waitey would like me saying we’re similar personalities but we’re both country boys, which brought us together. We both love surfing and don’t take ourselves too seriously.
I’ve played at three clubs and alongside some pretty amazing players over the journey but Waitey was the most natural footballer I’ve ever played with. He was born to play footy because he had everything — amazing skills, athleticism and could run all day.
He wasn’t in the best shape during different stages of his career but he brought everything he could for 120 minutes when he crossed that line.
Waitey’s very funny but he tries to be funnier than he is sometimes. He likes to have a good time but when it comes to something that’s important to him, he gets right in there and switches on when he needs to. He’s also caring and has a funny nature, which draws a lot of people to him.
On the field, I was played alongside him in the Carlton forward line a bit and we had a fun little partnership together. In a game against North Melbourne, he kicked four goals and absolutely dominated. I was lucky and kicked six that day and when I say lucky, I mean because I reckon he kicked the ball to me for five of those six goals.
Little things like that fun partnership made footy enjoyable. It can be a tough and serious game sometimes but Waitey definitely brought that enjoyment. He made footy fun to play.
One of my favourite memories with Waitey off the field was a surfing trip to Java. We had a bit of a long night the night before and realised when we got to the airport that we had an hour flight and a three-and-a-half-hour car journey to remote a fishing town.
We were there for four or five days where we would eat, surf and repeat so that was a great time. He’s very handy on the board and he loves it. He’ll be happy to have a bit more time on his hands now that he’s retired. It’s his favourite thing to do by a long stretch.
Waitey’s also a mad gamer and especially loves Call Of Duty. If he’s not surfing or spending time with the kids, he’s guaranteed to be on the PlayStation. Back when he did his knee, I think he was spending 10 or 11 hours per day playing games. He’s very good at it, too.
He’s that freakish talent. He draws your attention with some of the stuff he could do on the footy field. For a guy his size, the way he could move, take a mark and I also saw him play back and forward, he was freakish.
He’d win the time-trial in the pre-season and could pretty much do it all. I remember one of the first time-trials we had, he won by 100 metres. During the back end of a time-trial, you can barely speak because you’re working that hard but he was laughing and yelling out to guys on the bike riding around.
Who knows what could’ve happened if he didn’t have some of the serious injuries he suffered throughout his career.
The year before I was drafted, the Blues finished at the bottom of the ladder so every player played a game that year except for Waitey. It was almost like he was a new draftee along with myself and Brad Fisher when we got to the club.
Brad and I were still living out east so during any downtime, we’d go to Waitey’s house, have lunch and watch movies before heading back into the club for training. We’d watch some sort of car movie, it was around the time The Fast And The Furious came out so we spent a fair bit of time watching that.
Even during the off-season, instead of going back to my place in the hills every night, I’d stay at Waitey’s for a week. They were great times.
He’s one of the most laid-back characters you’ll meet. He loves his surfing, PlayStation, movies and never takes himself took seriously. If he’s not cracking gags, he’s making fun of himself.
I reckon he went about three years in a row kicking the first goal of the season. I also remember one day where he was having an argument with an umpire and on their microphone you can hear him say, ‘Aw come on maaaan’. It was almost like John McEnroe had walked onto the field! That one got played back a few times at the club.
One thing that I find weird out about him is his feet. He’s a size 14 and his toes are deadest like fingers — they’re crooked and fold over each other — so the fact he was able to play for so long is unbelievable because they’re some of the worst looking things you’ll see.