The Waite is over: Jarrad’s back at Benalla
He’s coming home.
Former Carlton and North Melbourne star Jarrad Waite has signed on for Benalla for the remainder of the Goulburn Valley League season.
Club president Lloyd Johnson confirmed the 39-year-old would see out the season with the Saints, and that he would suit up this weekend for their round 12 clash with Seymour at Benalla Showgrounds.
“It’s fantastic to have somebody of Jarrad’s calibre back at Benalla,” Johnson said.
“It’s been spoken about for a few years now and to actually see him out on the field this Saturday will be a good feeling for a lot of people.
“From a club point of view we’re lucky in that he’s got a lot of mates still tied in with the footy club and I think they’ve been at Jarrad for a couple of years to come back and have a kick.”
Waite returns to the club where he played the majority of his footy as a junior, before being drafted to Carlton in 2001 with pick number 46 under the father-son rule.
The key forward played 244 games for Carlton and North, and was the leading goal-kicker for the Blues in 2014 and the Roos the following year.
Waite departs Whittlesea where he’s been plying his trade this season in a playing-coach capacity, having previously played for VAFA heavyweight St Kevin’s Old Boys in recent seasons.
The Saints’ two-game winning streak came to a crushing end last week at Echuca, the Murray Bombers coming away with a thumping 23.19 (157) to 0.4 (4) win to knock Benalla back to 11th.
Ahead of Seymour on Saturday, Johnson said Waite’s talent and experience would be sure to lift the entire senior squad at a crucial point of the season.
“Echuca have been the benchmark for a while, Saturday they showed what depth at a club does,” he said.
“The one thing we’ve struggled with this year is having some key targets, so to now have a focal point forward potentially, or wherever he (Waite) plays, will bring a level of excitement.
“Coming into the last seven or eight rounds of the season, we’ve got our mid-year ball this week; it’s a really big home game and a chance to build a bit of excitement and build towards next year.”
With a new crop of Saints youngsters coming through the ranks this year under the guidance of coaches Will Martiniello and Mark McKenzie, Johnson said he expects Waite to offer further tutelage to the young Benalla brigade.
“The level that he’s played at he’ll be able to talk to the young kids and give a bit of direction on what’s going on, it’s a whole new perspective for the younger blokes,” he said.
“They’ll all walk a little bit taller as a result.”