WESTERN Force versatile backliner Kyle Godwin moved a step closer to becoming the second Zimbabwe-born player to play for Australia after being included in the Wallabies’ 30-man squad for their Rugby Championship Test against South Africa in Brisbane tomorrow.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
The 24-year-old Harare-born crafty centre, who can also play flyhalf, was called into the Wallabies training squad this week to be reunited with Gweru-born Australia loose forward David Pocock.
Although Godwin did not make Australia’s final 24-man squad for tomorrow’s potentially explosive encounter, he is already being tipped for Wallabies honours which would see him joining Pocock as the second Zimbabwe-born player to don the golden Wallabies strip.
Godwin was only eight when his parents, Royle and Jane, decided to leave Zimbabwe in 2000 at the height of Zimbabwe’s fast-track land reform programme.
“The Pococks (David Pocock’s family) owned a farm next door to my cousin,” Godwin told The Weekend Australian.
“We were lucky enough to leave before things turned really bad. The year we left, the exchange rate to the Australian dollar was 40 to one.
“Within a year it had shot up to a couple of millions to one.”
“We were lucky. My parents saw Zimbabwe was not doing too well and didn’t have a great future, so we got out,” he said.
Like so many Zimbabweans, the Godwins settled in Perth, which was fortuitous, certainly for his father, who is in construction, but also for Kyle who was free to pursue his boyhood love of rugby in Western Australia which has a long and proud history of senior rugby dating back to the state’s first competition in 1895.
It was from Aquinas College, more renowned for producing Australian Test cricketers Terry Alderman and Justin Langer than rugby players, that Godwin made the 2009 Australian Schoolboys side.
That would be Godwin’s springboard to a professional rugby career, with the then Western Force coach Richard Graham bringing him into the club’s academy when he was 18.
The Harare-born young star flourished under Graham’s guidance at Western Perth, making his Super Rugby debut as a 19-year old in 2012 against the Queensland Reds.
Later that year, the talented playmaker represented the Australian Under-20 team at the 2012 Junior World Championship in South Africa, starting every match at flyhalf scoring 21 points throughout the tournament.
After scoring his first Super Rugby try against the Crusaders in the final round of the 2012 season, Godwin was named the Western Australia Rugby Union Under-20 Player of the Year and runner-up in the Western Australia Club Rugby Player of the Year.
Godwin had a breakout season in 2013 for the Force and was recognised as the club’s most outstanding player with the inaugural Nathan Sharpe Medal, Members’ Most Valuable Player Award and Rising Star Award.
In 2014, Godwin was called into the Wallabies 30-man squad for The Rugby Championship. A shoulder injury later ruled him out of the Wallabies Spring Tour of Europe and possible national debut.
Having played almost his entire professional career at the Force, Goodwin made the biggest move of his professional career thus far after signing for the Brumbies on a two-year deal.
Godwin, who now looks set to earn his first Wallabies cap later this year, will join the Brumbies in time for 2017 pre-season training which begins later this year.
“The opportunity to grow as a person and as a rugby player at the Brumbies is something I could not ignore,” Godwin said in a statement on the Brumbies’ official website.
“The opportunity to be coached by Stephen Larkham, someone who played in a position similar to me was definitely another reason for the decision.”
“I’ve loved every minute at the Western Force and the club will always be very special to me, but the move to the Brumbies is the best decision for my career.”
“I’ve lived in Perth my whole life, I live 10 minutes away from training so it’s going to be a big change moving to Canberra but I need a change to keep pushing me and challenging me.
“To be able to link with the current Australian Conference Champion is something I am extremely grateful for and I’m really looking forward to this next chapter of my career at the Brumbies.”