Jas Garner has topped off a career best season, claiming the North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos Best and Fairest medal.
The virtual awards night held on Zoom and released via Facebook Premiere on Friday night, proved to be a nail-biter with the count coming down to the wire.
Garner (112) edged out North captain, Emma Kearney, by one vote (111), tenacious midfielder Ash Riddell polled 107 votes, while 2019 Best and Fairest winner Jenna Bruton (101) and impressive Irish recruit Aileen Gilroy (83) rounded out the top five.
Humbled, Garner was quick to praise the club and her fellow teammates for the accolade.
“I’m honestly very honoured to win this award,” Garner said.
“I just want to congratulate Kearns [Emma Kearney], Ash [Riddell], Jenna [Bruton] and [Aileen] Gilroy for having great seasons; any one of them could’ve easily taken out this award.
“I’m absolutely loving my footy at the moment and really enjoying it. I couldn’t thank the club enough and all the staff and the coaches and especially the girls.
“I’m not able to play the footy I do without the playing group so I just want to thank you girls for letting me play the footy I do.”
Speaking of her transition to the midfield, Garner said it was a testament to her teammates for her performance.
“The midfielders we have in there, my job is made quite easy,” she said.
“When you have someone like Kearns [Kearney] playing alongside you, and I think the other midfielders will agree with me on this, you just feel so much more confident playing.
“She does all the hard work and the gut running and you can just go about your business and you know she’s there with you.
“Jenna, Ash and Kearns [Kearney] in the middle and Gav [Ellie Gavalas] Mia [King] – you guys get in and under and do all that hard stuff and I’m lucky enough to get on the outside and kick a few goals, so thank you.
“And the forwards as well – I know as a forward it can be quite frustrating when the midfielders try to sneak forward and get goals but you guys really embrace us midfielders going down there and trying to help.”
Looking forward, Garner is using the sudden conclusion of the season as motivation for the year ahead.
“It was disappointing with what happened, but I guess it is what is it and we can’t control that, but I’m looking forward to next year and I know all the other girls are as well,” she said.
“We definitely have the group to go all the way so I can’t wait for next year and to get stuck back into it.”
Garner adds the club Best and Fairest accolade to the 2020 AFLW Players’ Most Valuable Player Award and the 2020 AFL Coaches Association AFLW Champion Player of the Year Award.
Watch the full Best & Fairest count below.
Mazda Next Level Performer Award – Jas Garner
AFLW Best Clubwomen Award – Emma Kearney
Best Young Player Award – Daisy Bateman
Shinboner of the Year – Emma Kearney
The voting system is comprised of the senior coach Scott Gowans voting 0-10 for each player in each round, while the assistant coaches collectively vote 0-10 for each player in each round. The maximum score a player can earn in one round is 20 votes.