Jeremy McGovern in action during West Coast's clash against the Western Bulldogs in round 23, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

OF ALL the on-field highlights that Jeremy McGovern has accumulated in a terrific start to the season, it was a ferocious bump from Port Adelaide star Zak Butters that gave the West Coast defender the shot of confidence he craved as he returned from two seasons badly impacted by injury.

Just seconds before the quarter-time siren sounded at Adelaide Oval in round one, a vulnerable McGovern bent down to collect a groundball as Butters cannoned into his side, leaving the four-time All-Australian hunched over in pain before trainers came to assess him.

Having suffered badly broken ribs multiple times while playing 46 of a possible 85 games coming into this season, McGovern said being able to bounce back from that hit had helped him gain confidence in his body, with his form quickly following.

"As much as they hurt and they're not positions you want to get into, it actually gave me a bit of confidence again, which is great," McGovern told this week.

"Butters absolutely smoked me and got me a ripper, but I love that stuff and in the last couple of years I've broken my ribs a few times, so that was good to just to throw my body around a little bit and get through it.

"There's still a part of me that doesn't want to jinx myself because it's a long season to go, but each week and each training session and every game you get through, you're building a little bit of confidence."


McGovern has been in outstanding form this season, averaging a career-high 21.7 disposals and 6.8 rebounds while taking 7.2 marks a game and manning dangerous opposition key forwards.

After playing just nine games last season because of a long-term hamstring injury and concussion, he said it had "meant everything" to be able to rebound physically and help his young teammates progress through a rebuild.

"The last couple of years have been frustrating and I've felt like I've been letting everyone down because I haven't been out there," McGovern said.

"So being on the track so far, I can help contribute and help teach these boys and try and lead them as well as I can.

Jeremy McGovern marks the ball during West Coast's clash against Fremantle in round six, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"The last couple of years I have been getting my body in better shape and have been doing everything I can, and a couple of the injuries have been pretty unlucky.

"But it's also taking it upon yourself a little bit to go out and explore different things and different ideas. It's purely a goal to try and help us get out of this tough situation."

McGovern's drive to help the Eagles rebuild led to an off-season trip to Qatar, alongside teammates Elliot Yeo and Harry Edwards, where he hoped to address hamstring, back and adductor issues with high profile sports physiotherapist Enda King.

The self-funded trip to Aspetar, a world-renowned orthopaedic and sports medicine hospital, was treated as an investment, with McGovern learning more about his body and implementing immediate tweaks to his training program.

"We were there for a week and the first couple of days was all testing, from every single bit of testing that you could probably do. We had magnets on us and the glow balls and different simulators running on different treadmills," McGovern said.

Jeremy McGovern reaches for his injured hamstring during West Coast's loss to Fremantle in round three, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

"We did a full analysis of our bodies and then from there identified key areas that needed to be strengthened, or areas where you might be deficient or sore.

"It was three days of running through a program to strengthen up those areas and help you with your mechanics, then it was going through different options of loading your muscles that suit the individual.

"So now I do very similar weights stuff to all the other boys, but there's just extra stuff in the program now and small little changes within the program of what I can and can't do."

While getting the best out of himself remains a driving factor for McGovern, the 32-year-old said he had found a new motivation in supporting a young group after two difficult seasons at the foot of the ladder. 

"For a long period of your career, you're just trying to perform well and get yourself right, and I still have that need to perform well. But it's motivating to have these young boys come in eager as and full of energy," he said.

Harley Reid celebrates a goal with teammates during West Coast's clash against Fremantle in round six, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"It's almost like you've got a new baby that you can help mould and help improve as much as you can.

"I think a lot of the senior boys have definitely fed off their energy and fed off their willingness to learn and want to get better and want to help the footy club get back to some positive football."