June 24, 2024

An unexpected incident during the early part of the season provided Jeremy McGovern with a significant boost in confidence. Despite his impressive on-field performances, it was a forceful collision with Port Adelaide’s Zak Butters that truly bolstered the West Coast defender’s morale.

This encounter occurred just moments before the quarter-time break in round one at Adelaide Oval. As McGovern retrieved a groundball, Butters collided with him, causing him to momentarily hunch over in discomfort before receiving attention from trainers.

Having endured multiple instances of badly broken ribs and having played only 46 out of a possible 85 games prior to this season, McGovern emphasized that bouncing back from the collision with Butters had significantly boosted his confidence in his physical condition, with his performance quickly reflecting this improvement.

“In spite of the discomfort and the undesirable situations, it actually instilled some confidence in me again, which is fantastic,” McGovern explained to AFL.com.au this week.

“Butters really laid me out with that hit, but I thrive on that kind of physicality, and over the past couple of years, I’ve dealt with rib injuries a few times, so it was reassuring to be able to throw my body around and come out of it okay.

“There’s still a part of me that’s cautious not to jinx myself because the season is long, but with each passing week, training session, and game, I’m gradually building more confidence.”

McGovern’s stellar performance this season has seen him excel, boasting career-high averages of 21.7 disposals and 6.8 rebounds per game, along with securing 7.2 marks on average per game, all while successfully defending against formidable opposition key forwards.

Having endured a challenging period with just nine games played last season due to a prolonged hamstring injury and concussion, McGovern expressed the significance of bouncing back physically and aiding the development of his younger teammates amidst the team’s rebuilding phase.

“The past couple of years have been frustrating, and I’ve felt like I’ve let everyone down by not being able to be out there,” McGovern admitted.

“Thus far, being able to actively contribute and mentor these young players through the rebuild has been incredibly meaningful for me.”

“I’ve been diligently working on improving my physical condition over the past couple of years, and while some injuries have been unfortunate, I’ve also taken personal responsibility to explore various methods and strategies to address them. It’s all geared towards helping the team navigate through this challenging period.”

McGovern’s commitment to aiding the Eagles’ rebuilding efforts led him and teammates Elliot Yeo and Harry Edwards to embark on an off-season journey to Qatar. There, they sought to address issues related to McGovern’s hamstring, back, and adductor with renowned sports physiotherapist Enda King.

McGovern’s self-funded journey to Aspetar, a globally acclaimed orthopedic and sports medicine hospital, was viewed as a strategic investment. During the trip, he gained valuable insights into his physical condition and made immediate adjustments to his training regimen based on the findings.

“We spent the first few days undergoing extensive testing, covering every possible aspect. We had sensors attached to us, underwent various simulations on different treadmills—it was comprehensive,” McGovern recounted. “After analyzing our bodies thoroughly, we pinpointed areas that needed strengthening or where there were deficiencies or soreness.”

“We then spent three days following a tailored program aimed at fortifying those areas and refining our mechanics. We also explored different methods of muscle loading tailored to each individual,” he added. “Now, my weight training regimen largely mirrors that of my teammates, but with additional exercises and subtle modifications to cater to my specific needs.”

While personal performance remains a key motivator for McGovern, the 32-year-old emphasized a newfound sense of purpose in nurturing a youthful squad after enduring two challenging seasons at the bottom of the ladder.

“For much of your career, the focus is on personal performance and well-being, and that drive still exists for me. However, it’s incredibly motivating to see these young players come in with boundless enthusiasm and energy,” he remarked.

“It’s akin to having a new baby that you can nurture and guide to improvement,” McGovern remarked. “Many of the senior players have certainly drawn inspiration from their enthusiasm and eagerness to learn, their desire to progress, and their commitment to helping the team return to a more positive trajectory.”

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