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West Coast Eagles, Jeremy McGovern, weight gain, banished, pre-season, 8kg, sent away, contract almost torn up, All Australian, premiership, BackChat podcast

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West Coast’s million dollar man Jeremy McGovern says his AFL career was almost over before it started, opening up on the moment he returned to the club eight kilograms overweight.

McGovern concedes he took his AFL opportunity for granted and “pissed that up the wall for a couple of years there” before the moment that changed his career.

The star defender, widely considered one of the best in the AFL, was banished from the Eagles in early 2014 with his contract almost torn up.

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He’d spent a month in Phuket where he admits he “didn’t do a thing” before attempting to run 4x 1km time trials as a “naive” 21-year-old.

McGovern, who has long endured media scrutiny over his frame, has spoken about the “scary” ordeal on the BackChat podcast – admitting he would have sacked himself had he been in West Coast’s position.

“I literally completely f**ked up,” he revealed.

“I thought I’d be right – run a couple of laps.

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“I got pulled into a meeting because it was extremely embarrassing for myself, the footy club.

“Soon as I walked in and there was 15 different officials from the footy club. (Coach Adam Simpson) Simmo was sort of pacing around a bit.

“I sat down, the shackles were off and I absolutely copped it. I deserved every bit of it.”

McGovern confirmed he was banished for three months and left the meeting in tears, believing he was “thrown to the wolves a bit”.

“I’m not a big crier, but they got me going,” he said.

“Simmo pretty much, he was scary – they were talking about ripping contracts up which was fair enough.

“I wasn’t once pissed off at anyone except myself. I knew I’d done it all myself and it was my fault.

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“I’d let mates down, teammates down, family down … Knowing blokes were so pissed off at you – I’ve butched it up.

“I would have sacked me for sure.”

But instead of wallowing, McGovern said he bought himself a bike and started to ride before committing to extra sessions with ex-Eagle Mark Nicoski.

“Nicko said ‘you’ve got to start changing the way you’re thinking, looking’,” he revealed.

“He really took me under his wing and showed me the ropes of what it means to be professional.

“It’s just a lesson in life for me.

“I pissed that up the wall for a couple of years there … luckily enough got an opportunity to try and make amends.”

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McGovern laughed as he recalled “dying” on the footy field early in his career before he realised he had asthma.

The now four-time All Australian and premiership Eagle says he’s grown to let criticism of his weight slide, despite copping some scrutiny from AFL pundits.

“I understand I’m not the prettiest guy, I’m not the fittest looking footballer,” he said.

“It’s a bit of a kick in the guts when everyone’s saying I’m fat and I’m fit.

“I just don’t care now.

“If their job is to try and make people feel bad … which I feel is some people’s angle at times… then they are doing a good job of it.”

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