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Australia’s Kieran Govers looks to hockey World Cup after exile ends

By Rod Gilmour

Kieran Govers has admitted that an “open and honest” dialogue between the exiled Kookabuurra and coaching staff propelled him back to the Australia squad for the first time since 2016.

Govers, 30, thought his career was over after he was omitted from the Rio Olympics squad and then through 2017.

But on Friday he was added to the national squad alongside Joshua Simmonds as Australia look to life after the retirement of inspirational captain Mark Knowles and Matthew Bird.

Govers, who has 121 caps and 58 goals to his name, told Australian media: “There were times I didn’t think I’d return to the national squad.

“You’re always thinking about retirement and life after hockey. Obviously stuff happens in sport and you don’t want to believe it, but it does happen and you have to be prepared.

“The best thing for me was the coaches and myself were open and honest with each other, they never said I was gone, it never was ‘Never again’. They just said play along, don’t get injured, ‘If you’re still good enough, we’ll assess you’.”

In 2016, Govers let rip in a blog published in 2016 which questioned Australia’s pre-Olympic commitment before the Kookaburras bombed out in Rio in the quarter-finals following a 4-0 loss to the Netherlands.

“We need to be better about being accountable,” Govers wrote. “Too many answers with buts or excuses. This has not changed in four years.”

On his part, Govers admitted that he had been “arrogant” as well as a “smart ass” in 2016.

Now, the rifts seem to have healed for both player and coaching staff in Perth as he looks towards selection for the World Cup in India later this year.

Kookaburras coach Colin Batch said: “We’re thrilled to be able to elevate both players into the National Squad.

“Kieran is an experienced athlete, having competed at past Olympics, Commonwealth Games and World Cups, and he has never given up on his dream to be selected back in the squad.

“We feel Kieran will be a valuable addition to bolster and complement our options in attack.”

The Kookaburras team for next month’s Champions Trophy will be named on Monday.

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