With a return of two goals and some brilliant defending, the drag-flicker returned to the side with some impressive performances, and helped his team qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

"I think 2018 was a relatively tough year for me because I was not getting into the side, and missed some major tournaments. It was a really difficult experience but these tough phases transform you into a better player, and a wiser human being. I realized that I needed to work on some areas after I had sustained a major injury, but I am really grateful to be ending this year with a very positive mindset, and looking forward to achieving great things with this bunch of players in the next 7-8 months," said the 29-year-old.

"It was a journey of constant hard work on the ground and in the gym, and I am really pleased with the way I have been able to make a comeback. The most important thing for me was to make sure that I contribute to the team performing to the best of our abilities, and I think we are gradually getting to a level which can help us compete for the top prizes. It is an important year in the lives of a lot of players in the world because we have the Olympic Games this upcoming year, and I am really looking forward to making my country proud," added the drag-flicker.

Currently in Bhubaneswar for the Training and Conditioning Camp, Rupinder says that the focus on the current camp has been on individual improvements rather than plotting out strategies for the Hockey Pro League or Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

"We had these four weeks of camp to focus on our individual development, improvement and growth. The coaching staff has been putting in all the hard work to make sure that all the 34 players in the National Camp are working on specific areas of concern for each player - starting from the basics of the game. It is a great process because this is the only time we get to focus on individual players and improving skills, in the lead up to the Olympics. The next camp will be aimed at getting ready for the Hockey Pro League, and then we will focus on strategies to face Netherlands," said Rupinder.

Having made his debut in 2008, Rupinder was also a part of the Indian side that finished 8th at the Rio Olympics 2016, and he recalled the experience, "It was a great feeling to have finally represented the country at the Olympic Games. It had always been my dream to play at the Olympics, and the feeling I got playing in that atmosphere was just surreal.

"It is true that we did not have the best of tournaments, but that experience is something that can help us next year in Tokyo. We have improved a lot in these four years, and I believe that our team is one of the top teams in the world right now," he said.