Hockeyroos return worth the pain for refreshed Georgina Morgan

There were times during an extended injury break, which included surgery on both her big toes, that Georgina Morgan began to wonder whether she would ever make it back on to a hockey pitch.

In the summer of 2017/18, while the majority of her Hockeyroos teammates were on the other side of the country at the Perth High Performance Unit, Morgan was at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra trying to find a way to tame the pain in her feet.

Hockeyroos return: Georgina Morgan takes on Great Britain earlier this month in a FIH Pro League match in Perth.Credit:Hockey Australia/Daniel Carson

"There was definitely a period there where I thought I wasn’t going to make it back. It would look promising then it wouldn’t take much to stir it back up," Morgan said.

"It was pretty rough because they were in Perth and I was in Canberra, so it was a bit of an adjustment."

Now the Rio Olympian is back and part of a three-pronged leadership group that also includes Jodie Kenny and Emily Chalker. On Saturday, the Armidale product will have the honour of captaining Australia in front of her home fans and family as they meet the United States in the FIH Pro League at the Olympic Park.

"Super excited," Morgan said. "The new Pro League format means we get to play at home in Australia, which we don’t get to do often and the teams are quality as well.

"I’m a NSW girl, it’s special to play in the Blues colours but to play in the green and gold in front of family and friends will be a special moment.

‘To play in the green and gold in front of family and friends will be a special moment’: Georgina Morgan.Credit:Hockey Australia/Daniel Carson

"I’m new to that [leadership] role but am still learning. Hopefully I can add to the team in that aspect. I feel really lucky to share that role with two experienced playes in Jodie and Emily. It was a little nervewracking last weekend in Perth but am really excited to lead them out in Sydney."

The FIH Pro League replaces the Champions Trophy and gives teams and players a chance to compete regularly at the elite level throughout the year and across the world. It's been a huge hit with players and crowds, with the men's and women's games back-to-back on Saturday as the Kookaburras open against Spain.

"We usually have a few Tests that don’t mean a lot in the scheme of things but to have every result matter, that makes it a high-stakes event," Morgan said.

"You want to make the most of your home crowd and the timezone and climate. It will be interesting to see how we go when we start playing overseas. But we have to learn to be able to turn up on the day and get the job done."

Playing well is reward in itself but the new format also provides a more-structured backdrop to the Olympics lead-up, with Morgan saying it was the perfect league to test combinations and chemistry ahead of next year's Games in Tokyo.

"It’s hugely important. Every nation is trying to finalise their main squads heading into Tokyo. The great thing with the Pro League is we have the chance to play regularly and find out what combinations work and who plays best where and explore that a bit better."

The Australian men play Spain at 3pm Sydney time on Saturday with the Hockeyroos in action against the USA from 5pm.

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