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Kiwi family supports Aussie water polo son

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 2/05/2016 Angus Livingston

Kiwi Joe Kayes will represent Australia in water polo in Rio, putting his family in the unusual position of supporting Australia from New Zealand.

"Not sure if my old man will have a yellow t-shirt on or Wallabies jersey in any hurry, but definitely they're excited for it," Kayes told NZ Newswire.

Kayes has been training and travelling with the Sharks for more than a year but finally got his FINA international clearance on Sunday.

"It's quite a unique thing really, because you don't ever hear of Kiwis or Australians becoming citizens of the other countries, mainly because they don't need to," he said.

"People on that side of the Tasman understood that for me to become my best and get to an Olympics and fulfil those dreams I had to become an Australian.

"I'm representing both countries in a way."

There is only one Oceania spot available for water polo qualification, and Australia has an up-and-coming team that is hoping to get through to the quarter-finals in Rio.

There was some talk when Kayes played in Hungary that he might switch to the global powerhouse Hungarian team, but he said he already got on well with the Australian squad.

"I sat back at the end of the day and wanted to feel comfortable and natural with the decision that I've made, and naturally I felt Australia was a lot closer to home," he said.

Australian coach Elvis Fatovic wants Kayes to fill a hole at centre forward so the Sharks can play with two up front.

"They've had to represent as a team with only one centre forward, which is almost not heard of in the top eight teams in the world, so they've done fantastically to stay in that top eight," Kayes said.

"Hopefully I can help lift our game on attack and contribute in that way."

Kayes said Fatovic was "one of the most well known defensive coaches in the world" and his experience would help in Rio.

He will make his official debut for Australia on an upcoming tour of the United States.

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