Garlett thrives on AFL return with brother cheering him on

Friday, April 6, 2018 - 8:38 AM by Chris Pike

HAVING returned home last year and being prepared to give up his AFL dream to be nearer his sick brother, Jarrod Garlett returned strongly to South Fremantle in 2017 and couldn’t be happier to now be back in the big time at Carlton and to have had that same brother there to cheer him up.

Garlett was initially taken at selection No. 15 by the Gold Coast Suns in the 2014 AFL Draft and went on to play 17 games over the next two seasons, looking on track to build himself a strong career in the big time.

But family came first. His brother was dealing with some serious health concerns and he just couldn’t bring himself to remain living over the other side of the country while that was happening.

So when Gold Coast couldn’t come to terms with either West Coast or Fremantle on a trade to allow the contracted Garlett to return home, he walked away from his AFL career to help take care of his ailing sibling.

He did end up playing in the WAFL)with his original club South Fremantle in 2017 as part of a team that ended up reaching the preliminary final.

He had impressed enough where AFL clubs were considering giving him another go and with his brother's condition improving, Garlett was ready to come back into the AFL as well.

That ended up seeing Carlton pick him at No. 78 in the 2017 AFL Draft and now in Round 1 of the 2018 season, he was there playing for the Blues in front of more than 90,000 fans at the MCG against Richmond.

Not only that, but Garlett played one of the best AFL games of his 18-match career kicking two early goals and finishing with 17 possessions and six marks.

For Garlett, it was a special occasion to get back out to play an AFL game again and to show that he could deliver at the level.

"It was amazing. Not many people can get that second chance to go back out there. To step out in front of 90,000 or so people, you can't really explain the feeling," Garlett said.

"It's the biggest crowd I've played in front of and it was all about giving back to my family and making them proud. 

"That was something I really took in and it had a big impact on my game, and makes me feel a lot better. I feel a lot more settled without home sickness or anything like that, I'm feeling good."

Having his family there, including his partner and young son, was extra special for Garlett too but nothing beat the presence of his brother who was able to be well enough to make the trip to Melbourne and cheer him on at the MCG.

"My partner was here, a couple of my in-laws, my aunty and my brother was too," Garlett said.

"My brother was the one who was really crook so for him to fly over and watch my first game, it was good to have him come down. He was pretty much the reason I left in the first place so it was good to have him here for my first game back."

Before that first game to open the 2018 AFL season, Garlett was understandably nervous but he was excited to get the chance to begin his second chance in the big time.

"I went in a bit nervous going into the game because I was the biggest crowd I've ever played in front of, but once we got out there and I got a couple of early touches, I was feeling good and like I was back at home," he said.

"They only told us the day before the game that we were playing, and I found out in the meeting where we had our jumper presentations. It was a really big privilege to know I was getting back out there and to represent the Carlton footy club."

Having grown up in Perth and lived on the Gold Coast for a couple of years, Garlett wasn’t sure what to expect from life in Melbourne. 

But for himself, his partner and their young son, they are enjoying it more than they might have thought and there's no signs of homesickness whatsoever.

"I'm actually really enjoying it. I sort of thought it would be a little bit tough managing with the traffic and getting to and from training, but we've really settled in well," Garlett said. 

"I'm here with my partner and we have a little boy now so that's making things a lot easier knowing I can go home to my son and we are starting to build our own little family now."