In amongst all the negatives in the press about rule changes and flooding, sometimes people forget that there’s also a hell of a lot of positives about pre-season footy – renewed hope, restored fitness and just a return to the sheer joy that seeing your team again can bring.  Another big positive is the chance to see some up & comers through the system, and Carlton has been lucky enough to see some of our young Rookies shine during this NAB Cup, and no one has shone more than young West Australian Jeffery Garlett.  Whilst a few still add a ‘t’ and call him Gartlett, young Jeff or Jeffery (he doesn’t mind) has provided some brilliant highlights in the last few weeks and we demanded some time with him from the Carlton Football Club.

Tell us what it’s like to be an AFL Rookie?
It’s pretty tough actually – you have to work hard and train hard just to try and get elevated.  It’s pretty exciting though.

As you’re a Rookie, do you see this as your chance to play seniors for the year, or are you hopeful of playing senior footy throughout the season?
It’s about putting your name forward and getting noticed.  I’d love to get elevated during the season.  Before Round 1 would be great, but I’d like to play some senior games this year.

What are you working on in 2009 to get yourself a senior spot by years end?
I’m working on putting myself out there for fitness, and also putting some weight on.  I don’t like doing weights, but I have to, and it’s good at Carlton.  I’ve probably put on 2-3 kilograms since coming to Melbourne, but after games, with all the running we do, it’s dropping off.

Being pretty small, do you sometimes race up to tackle a bloke only to realise how much bigger he is than you and wonder what the hell it is you're doing exactly?
* Laughs * I go in low.  See when I run I drop down and run, and I sort of run on my tip toes, but as I drop down I go for hips and make the tackle.

With Fisher losing his beard, are you the only Blue with facial hair these days?  How long have you had it for?
I wouldn’t have a clue…I’m 19 and I’ve shaved it twice in my life.  I used to go to Private School where you have to look clean and nice, but when I’ve shaved it off I look like a 10 year old.

Did the club indicate that they might take you in the Rookie Draft? Did you speak to anyone at the club before the draft day?
No, they didn’t talk to me.  The only clubs that spoke to me beforehand were Hawthorn and Fremantle, and then when I didn’t get picked up, Brendan Parker at Swan Districts then said that it’d either be Fremantle or Carlton.

I was really happy to come to Carlton as I know Chris Yarran well, and I now know Eddie Betts.  Ellard was also from Swan Districts.

What are your living arrangements in Melbourne? Did any of your family move down, or are you billeted with another player?

I’m living with Chris Yarran.  Chris’s Mum moved with him to Melbourne and I’m living with them.

You have been a good pinch hitter in the 2x NAB Cup games so far. Will you be playing on Saturday against the Cats?
Yeah, I’ll be playing.  I’ve been a substitute in the past 2 games, generally playing a half or so, but I might get more time soon.

We have the opportunity to play last year's grand finalists in the space of two weeks. What can we learn from Geelong and Hawthorn in these games?
It was really good to play the reigning Premier, and it will be good to play Geelong too.  We all know that Hawthorn didn’t have a full team in, but we’re a young team too, so it was a good try-out for us.

The coach indicated he might rest some of our key players, as well as playing by Home and Away season rules. How seriously is the club taking the competition? Is it there to win the cup, or to prepare for the season?
I think it’s more about the Home & Away Season.  It seems like the pre-season is a lot of big scratch matches – that’s what I think anyway.  It’s more about finding out where the players are at and getting into the team set-up.  It’s still good we’ve had the two wins so far though.

Tell us about your hometown in WA and your junior football days.
Well, I’m from Midvale like Chris Yarran.  I’ve been there since I was 5.  I played there and made the State Schools team at Under 15 level, then went to Swan Districts.  I had a year off and played back at Burracoppin – I was coached by ex-Port and Eagle player Ian Downsborough who is a good bloke – and then back at Swan Districts last year.

You kicked 33 goals last year? That’s not bad…
Yes, I kicked 33 but Chris kicked 39, 6 more than I did.

A lot is made about your famous cousin.  Run us through your other football connections….
Garlett is one of the biggest footy names in Western Australia, and football is as you know very popular in our aboriginal population – we’re all related in one way or another!

Yes, Franklin is my cousin.  Cruise Garlett is my second cousin; Dale Kickett is my cousin; Derek Kickett is my Uncle.  Leon Davis is from out Northam way and is my Uncle.  Des Headland is a first cousin….

Despite that football pedigree, we understand from the Blueseum that Guernsey #38 hasn’t seen a win at senior level for Carlton since 1993.  Is it too late to change it?
Well, that’s the first time I’ve heard that.  I had no idea.  Well, hopefully I can change that by winning a few games this year!

Young Garlett is not just an exciting prospect for Carlton out there on the field, he is genuinely excited about being here too.  With a nice highlights reel already forming, we’re sure you’ll be hearing more about Garlett (but less about Gartlett).