Returning swimming great Grant Hackett would be welcomed into the Australian team in any capacity despite his personal struggles since his 2008 retirement, head coach Jacco Verhaeren has said.
And Hackett, who will swim in the national trials that begin in Sydney on Friday, said he would be keen to support the team team even if he did not qualify for this year’s world titles in Kazan, Russia.
Verhaeren will head to the national titles looking for answers over the form of three world champions. James Magnussen’s performance will be heavily scrutinised following his shock decision to leave his long-time coach Brant Best for the inexperienced duo of Lachlan and Mitch Falvey, while Cate Campbell and Christian Sprenger will be returning from shoulder injuries.
But on Hackett, who returned to the pool in November last year with former coach Denis Cotterell, Verhaeren was emphatic that the Olympic champion would be invaluable to the team, which is rebuilding from its shambolic London Olympics performance, which was marred by the men’s 4×100 freestyle relay squad’s infamous Stilnox bonding session.