Exclusive Interview: Joseph Kayes

He is one of the world’s best center forwards, playing for water polo power house, Pro Recco. Under his leadership Cronulla Sharks came 3rd, two seasons in a row, and since joining the Australian Men’s Water Polo team, the Sharks have experienced a renaissance, recently coming second in the World Cup as well as finishing third at the 2019 World League Series that was held in Belgrade. Then followed the World Championship, where he was playing some of the best water polo of his life and was in the running for MVP of the tournament. Unfortunately, in the quarter finals, referees decided the outcome of the game. Both officials were suspended, yet this did not rectify the Shark’s chances of a podium finish. Nonetheless, as the new season approaches there is plenty of reasons to be optimistic.

Exclusive for WaterUKnow, we will be chatting all things water polo, with Joseph Kayes.

Its your second season in Europe (Italy) after spending a few years with Cronulla Sharks. How has that transition been so far, have you managed to get used it. What is it that you miss most about home?

“The lifestyle in Recco is good and the team is very professional which is great. The town itself is very quiet but it’s nice being by the coast! The biggest difference is that polo is my job again and that’s my main priority which means I’m not up at 4am and busy most of the day like in Australia. It’s great because it allows me to focus solely on polo but at times I feel like there’s not as much going on.

You are playing in the team which is expected to win everything. In the past few years they have been missing out on European Premiership by small margins. How did you and your teem feel last year after that rough loss in the semi finals?

“I think after such a great season and working so well together we were just all so disappointed that it ended that way. Also the fact that it was one of our worst games of the year, it just made for a really frustrating end to an otherwise great season.

Playing for Recco is intense and the expectation to win is understandable when you have the coaching and playing group that we have. The Final 8 for Champions League is hosted by us this year so we just need to learn from mistakes and give ourselves the chance in the final!

Its a new season but expectations are the same. Is it hard to find motivation at the beginning of the season, what is the team atmosphere like?

Our team has a good atmosphere and with Ratko coaching, you always have to perform and train hard. Motivation isn’t hard but it was hard snapping out of holiday mode after having a really nice break after world champs!

Finally, Olympics are coming up, you guys killed it at World League Finals and well we all know what happened at World Championship.

World League was a great start to summer for us as a team last year. A lot of the players are maturing and the group gets along incredibly well. Our results have been good but we want much more and are on track for a big year this year.World Champs was a mix of emotions and was a good lesson to us that we hate losing! Hopefully after Olympics it’ll be a different story.

What are the vibes among the national team. The change of generation is approaching, you guys have a lot of experience,
do you guys think this is your chance for a podium finish?

I have a lot of faith and belief in our group of guys and I would love for the entire group to be rewarded for the sacrifices they’ve made over the years. We certainly won’t be holding anything back in any game!”