200 game milestone really special for family man Whetton

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Jake Whetton is a proud father, husband, son, teammate, Queenslander, Kookaburra, and on Saturday he will join an elite group to play 200 games for Australia’s men’s hockey team.

Just a week after another of the Kookaburras’ mosquito fleet Matt Swann reached his double century milestone, Whetton is set to join him in the 200 club when he runs out against Great Britain.

Similarly to Swann and all of his Kookaburras teammates, Whetton is a tenacious competitor who leaves nothing left on the field every time he plays for his country. When he talks about the immense regard he holds for representing the green and gold, it is clearly evident what it means to him.

Whetton is a World Cup winner, Commonwealth Games gold medallist, has won the Champions Trophy and Pro League title, and been shortlisted for the FIH Player of the Year in 2018.

Now on the brink of making his 200th Kookaburras appearance, with his parents having flown down from Brisbane, and his wife and young son having come over from Perth for the occasion, the 28 year old describes what the feat and being part of the Kookaburras means to him.

Reaching 200 games in any sport at any level is a massive achievement, but to do it for the Kookaburras and still be at the peak of the sport, what does it mean to you to be about to hit this milestone?

JW: “It’s going to be a really proud moment for me and probably more so my family and close friends who have been there from the start. It has been a long journey…there have been some really high points and some really low moments, but to be involved in a group like the Kookaburras, which is something I wanted to do from a young age, for the last ten years is really special to me.

People who know me know how much hockey means to me and to be able to represent the Kookaburras and Australia 200 times is really special and a real honour. I love being around this group and playing hockey for Australia.”

That is certainly evident every time you take the field and the way you go about it. Is there anything you can put your finger on that has helped you to maintain such a high standard up to 200 games and hopefully many more to come?

JW: “I think being involved with the group when I first came in and the success that the team had has really driven me for the last few years.

Now being more of a senior member in the group, I want that success for the younger guys. I know when I started how much the older guys within that Kookaburras group grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and took me on their journey and wanted me to become the best player I could be. I want that for everyone in this current squad.

I want us to be the best team possible and that comes from the top of the tree down to the guys who have yet to make their debuts, so I want everyone to come on this journey. We’ve got a really special group at the moment, so me being one of those senior leaders I really want to push this group and achieve some amazing things.”

Whetton celebrates at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in his home state.

When you look back from the time you made your Kookaburras debut to now, are there any memories that stick out?

JW: “There would be a number of them, probably too many to count. Certainly my debut in Malaysia…mum and dad flew over for it and they were such a massive support to me growing up and whatever I wanted to do they were right behind me.

More recently my wife being able to be at tournaments whenever she can get to them, that’s pretty special. And now with my son, it’s pretty cool to have him be there but not really knowing what’s going on. I remember last year at the first game he was at, we got beaten by Belgium at the start of last year and I was pretty disappointed, but to see him after the game, he obviously had no idea what was going on and had a big smile on his face. So they are times I look back fondly on.

The World Cups and Commonwealth Games wins, having those people that were and still are a big influence on me at those big games means the world to me. I just love being able to represent Australia in the game that I love and hopefully I can continue doing that for a few more years.”

Tickets for the matches against Great Britain are available now through Ticketek. The matches will also be broadcast on Kayo and/or Fox Sports.