Kookaburra greats inspire rookie
Matt Gohdes, centre, with Jamie Dwyer and Mark Knowles. Picture Steve Ferrier/The West Australian

Matt Gohdes has big shoes to fill.

And he knows it. In fact there are two sets - but neither is yet unoccupied.

One belongs to Jamie Dwyer, at 33 the best hockey player in the world - a genius with the stick whose mesmerising skills have hypnotised the game's elite players for a decade.

Mark Knowles, 28, wears the others.

He's not flamboyant like Dwyer but he's hard as granite and applauded by his Kookaburra teammate for his selfless approach.

There's a bit of Dwyer in Gohdes, the 22-year-old and the youngest member of the Kookaburras squad for London daring to take the game on, working up forward to try to create or crack a goal.

It's natural that he plays similarly to the famous Kookaburra because he has followed first-hand Dwyer's fortunes across the globe.

But he's had more of an insight than other wide-eyed hockey players with a stick in their hand and a dream in their heads because Dwyer's and Gohdes' mothers - Lea and Kim - are sisters.

As a kid in Rockhampton, Gohdes followed Dwyer around the hockey traps, picking up a tip here and there, building a portfolio of knowledge from a player who has been recognised five times as peerless in the world.

One of Gohdes' most-treasured moments was as a 14-year old when the family clan had gathered in front of the TV at the Rockhampton house of a third sister Lori.

When Dwyer nailed a goal in extra time of the final against the Dutch to give Australia their first Olympic gold medal in men's hockey, Gohdes knew he wanted in.

It's not that he had not shown signs of developing into a talented player but it swung the deal.

"We were all sitting there in the lounge room in the wee hours of the morning when Jamie hit that winning goal," Gohdes said.

"We were all ecstatic and if there wasn't a dream already, that pretty much cemented it for me. I wanted to do that."

Gohdes' inspiration comes from a number of sources but blood is thicker than water, and in the case of Knowles, near enough is close enough because also watching was Jamie's sister Kelly, who would later become Knowles' wife.

"I based a lot of my game on him (Dwyer), I guess," Gohdes said. "Watching him from such a young age I've picked up some of his skills and hopefully by adding a few of mine to what he's taught me, I can have a pretty good career.

"Mark's like family now. I've known him for years and years. He's more of a defensive player through the midfield and I'm learning from him as well. He's an amazing player in his own right. He will do anything for the team."

Remarkably, in London three of the 16 Kookaburras hail from Rockhampton and third-time Olympians Dwyer and Knowles will keep a family eye on the new kid.

The West Australian

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