THE patience and hard work of Ipswich midfielder Tim Bates has been rewarded with his call-up to the Australian Kookaburras team for this month's tour to Europe.
Bates, 23, yesterday confirmed from Perth that he'd been selected to join the Kookaburras hockey squad heading overseas on July 20.
The national team is playing a series of matches as part of its preparation for next year's London Olympics.
It will be the second senior team tour for Bates, who represented Australia at last year's Azlan Shah Cup tournament in Malaysia.
Bates was playing his fourth international game on that tour when a painful knock to his left hand suddenly halted his progress.
Bates dislocated his front knuckle, received a break between the knuckle and middle finger joint, and ruptured a tendon.
However, Bates is back in peak condition, having spent months training with the Australian Institute of Sport and representing Queensland in recent Australian Hockey League (AHL) matches.
“Everything's been going well,” Bates said, having also completed his electrical apprenticeship.
“I've been doing a lot of training, six days a week over here.
“I'm the fittest I've ever been at the moment.
“Hopefully, touch wood, I stay injury-free.
“I'm pretty excited.”
Bates hopes to represent Australia in the Five-Nation Challenge in Paris.
Australia is due to play Ireland on July 27, Argentina on July 28, Korea on July 30 and France on July 31.
The former Easts premiership-winning midfield/striker played in Europe with the Queensland Academy of Sport team when he was 17.
He sees his latest call-up as an important stepping stone in his quest to play for the Kookaburras at next year's London Olympics.
“It's a good opportunity for me,” he said, having been added to the tour after injuries to midfielder Tim Deavin (stress fracture) and striker Kieran Govers (hamstring).
After tasting top-level hockey last year, Bates is happy to be recognised.
“I'm pretty stoked,” he said.
“It (my first national tour) was all a learning experience – just the intensity and the standard of international players.”
Impressing in Europe could also help the Ipswich product force his way into the national side for the Champions Trophy in December.
Before his latest call-up, Bates has been playing club hockey in Perth in addition to his training with the national squad.
The former St Edmund's College student has also reunited with his Ipswich twin Michael for the Queensland Blades in the AHL.
Defending champions Queensland are in good shape for finals week next month after winning all five games in Darwin and Tasmania.
The Bates' brothers have played important roles this season as they have in the past, contributing to Queensland's lethal goal-scoring firepower.
The AHL finals week is in Sydney from August 6-13.
Bates will rejoin the Blades side for the finals after returning from his European duty.