Matthew Swann will become just the twentieth Australian men’s player to reach the 200 game milestone when he runs out for the Kookaburras against world number two Belgium on Sunday.
The Mackay product isn’t big on tracking his games tally but when pressed to consider the esteemed company he’ll now accompany, was able to reflect on his journey to date and those players he has considered role models.
“Now that you mention it, the players that come to mind are fellow Queensland players like Dean Butler, Jamie Dwyer, Mark Knowles, Rob Hammond and Liam De Young,” Swann said.
“To be honest its hard to reflect because the journey is not over yet, but I feel privileged and lucky to be able to do something I enjoy so much for such a long period of time.”
The 30-year-old burst onto the international scene in 2009, before earning the FIH Young Player of the Year Award in 2011.
Swann had many standout performances during this period, with his trademark headband placing further emphasis on his eye-catching skills and aerobic capacity.
It is understood that the headband originated from former teammate Luke Doerner’s father Harold’s home in Altona, after the pair visited during the 2010 Champions Trophy.
“We somehow got rummaging through all dad’s old junk and an Australian headband from another sport caught Swanny’s eye. Dad said if he took it, he’d have to wear it when he played and Swanny did as he was told,” Doerner revealed.
The country boy attributes much of his longevity at the top level to him being a more well-rounded player, with greater consistency in defence than when his career began.
“I think if you can play for a long period of time it means that your adaptability to the game is of a high level, so I would consider that I’m still playing some of my best hockey,” Swann said.
“My role in the Kookaburras is to be a fire fighter. I defuse dangerous situations and help my team to counterattack, as well as bringing a lot of energy to the group.”
Swann is one of the first players selected in Kookaburra sides and figures prominently in physical testing, including achieving mid 16 beep test scores.
But he also has one eye focused on his future post-hockey, having taken a break from the Kookaburras training environment in early 2018 to focus on his professional career as an Associate with PwC.
“I’m lucky enough to work for a great company who have been assisting me to achieve my professional career endeavours, as well as my sporting endeavours.”
“I have a great team that I work with at PwC Perth, so going away with the Kookaburras is so much easier knowing I have their support to manage both careers.”
“Of course, I also wouldn’t have made it this far if it wasn’t for the support of my family, particularly my parents and sisters and my wife Rose.”
Swann will bring up his milestone on Sunday against Belgium at Sydney’s Homebush Stadium, with tickets available at Ticketek and the games live on Fox Sports and Kayo.