Culture, swagger and … engineering: There’s more to Jesse Wardlaw than meets the eye

BEHIND her pink suit and dark sunglasses of AFLW awards night there lies an intriguing, diverse, and curious personality in Jesse Wardlaw.

Brisbane’s power forward, who is the competition’s leading goalkicker through eight rounds, has a little bit of everything in her make-up.

She is strong – in every sense of the word – ambitious, has style, studies a profession you’d struggle to guess and is super tight with a family whose culture she is still learning about.

Playing in a team of big profiles and bigger personalities, Wardlaw is happy to take a back seat, but her story and transition from a promising netball career is as fascinating as anyone on the all-conquering Lions team.

Born in Ashburton, in New Zealand’s South Island, Wardlaw moved to Australia at the age of four with her parents and older sister Mya, quickly immersing herself into Brisbane’s southern suburbs.

Wardlaw’s journey from there to the AFLW took about three years – and is probably worth a story on its own – as she first made a regional team and was spotted by Craig Starcevich.

The man who was about to become Lions coach in the inaugural AFLW season shot Wardlaw a message to see if she wanted to train with the under-18 state team – even though she wouldn’t be selected – and she was hooked.

Although moving to Australia before being old enough to form any memories, Wardlaw’s love of her New Zealand family and Maori heritage is an integral part of her life.

Now in her fifth season, Wardlaw is already a premiership player and quickly becoming one of the competition’s dominant forwards.

Her 14 goals in eight games leads the competition by three goals, but it’s her aerial contests and willingness to apply defensive pressure that have caught the eye this season.

Whether it’s contesting a mark, picking an outfit or studying for an engineering exam, Wardlaw is full steam ahead on getting the most out of herself.

While she can’t wait to return to New Zealand post-season to see her grandparents, mother, sister, niece and nephew – who all now live together – she has some goals to achieve in the coming weeks with her “second family”.

Full Story – AFLW