Jasmine Garner may simultaneously be the best and most unassuming player in the AFLW competition.

She's already got a heaving shelf of awards – recently taking out her third AFLCA champion player count and her second AFLPA MVP, was named the All-Australian captain in season seven and has six All-Australian blazers – but still hasn't broken through for that elusive AFLW best and fairest win.

The potential reasons are numerous – strong-performing teammates like Emma Kearney, Ash Riddell and Jenna Bruton "stealing" votes, her fairly neutral appearance on the field, with a neat low hair bun and black boots.


On the field, she's an absolute weapon.

A taller midfielder for AFLW, standing at 175cm (for comparison, GWS key forward Izzy Huntington is the same height), Garner is a strong contested player with a thumping right boot.

Drafted as a young key forward by Collingwood with pick No.86 ahead of the inaugural 2017 season, then-coach Wayne Siekman had said she was the best mark in the competition, but her fitness meant she slid in the draft.

Jasmine Garner in action during the AFLW R4 match between Collingwood and Western Bulldogs at Whitten Oval on February 25, 2017. Picture: AFL Photos

At the time, it seemed like hubris, but now, her overhead skills can't be questioned, and she's got a knack of kicking crucial goals at the perfect moment.

What makes Jasmine Garner tick?

"When I started (in 2020), she was pretty quiet, but she's started to really build that leadership, in meetings and on game day. She's really come out of her shell in that way," teammate Sarah Wright said.

"But she's just so humble, she's not a big head, she doesn't try and start punch-ons or anything, she just literally gets her job done. Even when she's quiet and gets a tag, she helps her teammates out.

"She also loves to include everyone. She isn't cliquey or chooses who to hang out with, and I think that's been one of the best things. She's so welcoming and is one of the first to get over to a new player. No ego."


Taylah Gatt is currently the youngest in North Melbourne's line-up, and didn't turn 18 until the final month of her first AFLW season last year.

As a winger, she's worked relatively closely with Garner and the other inside midfielders.

"She's someone you just look up to. She's someone who just gets it done – at training, the running, she might not be the most athletic or the quickest, but she just gets it done, no complaints," Gatt said.

"Her attitude is just so incredible, she's such a good person, too. Her drive to get better and get the team better is so unselfish. The work she does, has such a domino effect. The pressure the senior players bring, it makes us younger players go with them. It's huge to us.

"I just think of caring, straight away. Last year when I was really young and was pretty shy, she was always asking how my day was, little things like that that just when you are so young, it's like 'oh my god, Jasmine Garner's talking to me'."

Jasmine Garner (C) celebrates a goal with Taylah Gatt and Isabella Eddey during the AFLW R7 match between North Melbourne and Yartapuulti at Arden St Oval on October 15, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Adding to her physical weapons is a sharp football mind and an insatiable desire to improve.

A Victoria v Allies exhibition match was played in September 2017, six months after the end of the first AFLW season.

Across two teams made up of the best players from around the country, it was then 23-year-old Garner who rose to the occasion, booting five goals in a match after five across the seven games of the 2017 season. 

She physically looked like a different person from the one who had played earlier in the year.

Jasmine Garner celebrates a goal with Ellie Blackburn during the AFLW State of Origin match between Victoria and the Allies on September 2, 2017. Picture: AFL Photos

"Until I'd got drafted to Collingwood, I'd never really used a gym. So just learning all that, getting running programs, doing it in the off-season," Garner said after that game.

"It's mainly just running and changing my eating habits. Basically, I've just been trying to work a lot harder up the ground."

Coach Darren Crocker said when Garner speaks up in meetings, the team listens. She's not one to dominate the chat, but her "measured" feedback comes from a wealth of football knowledge, understanding the "nuances" of the game.

"Jas makes Jas who she is. She's just uncomplicated. She's unflappable. She's unbelievably consistent, her demeanour doesn't change much, whether we lose or whether we win. Generally she plays well, but even when she wears a bit of attention, she gets on with it," he said.

"She wants to be successful because she wants the team success. So, she tries to get better herself, because she knows the better she gets, the better the team will be. 

"I didn't see her at her infancy in the first couple of seasons of AFLW. When I came into the space, all I knew was she was someone who wasn't happy with where they were, and has just worked tirelessly to get fitter, stronger and be able to cover the ground more and get to more contests."


Where Garner goes, so too does younger brother Kane.

You may not recognise him, but if you've watched a North Melbourne AFLW match, you've surely heard him, leading chants with a bellowing "KANGA, KANGA, KANGA".

The club included Kane in Garner's recent re-signing announcement video, the brother jokingly refusing to sign his waterboy contract extension till the club extended his sister's playing contract.

"We love having Kane around the place. He brings that fun element to it. You've got to understand that a lot of these players are either going to uni or working, and you want to create an environment they want to come to," Crocker said.

"I know everyone enjoys Kane's company around here. Somehow, he's just charmed his way into being our waterboy, and now he's complaining about not getting paid for it. We love having him around and I know it's great for 'Jammin' (Kane's childhood name for Jasmine) to have him around too, she really enjoys having him as part of her football journey as well. 

"He's now even weaselled his way into coming into meetings and line meetings, but it's been good for him too, because it's given him a bit of a purpose and taught him some good lessons. Hopefully the program's had a bit of an impact on him, as he's had on us."

Away from football, Garner is a plumber, and has been with partner Bruton for 10 years. The pair even used to live in a tiny house out in Trentham when Bruton's mother was seriously unwell, commuting into Melbourne for footy.

At 29, Garner still has a long career ahead of her, and the AFLW is richer for it.

How will the youngster who grew up playing junior footy alongside the boys at Yarraville in Melbourne's inner west be seen when her glittering footy journey draws to a close?

"I think she'll be a generational player," Crocker said.

"I think people will be talking about the initial batch of players to come into the AFLW, and they'll be talking about Jas Garner as one of the best."