Nicho Hynes is one of the NRL’s nice guys, and watching the action unfold from the coaches box recently while nursing a calf injury, he’s noticed something about Sharks No.1 Will Kennedy: he might be too nice for his own good.
Hynes has taken an interest in Kennedy’s game because he plays fullback, a position that used to be close to his heart. The Dally M Medal winner is convinced his Sharks teammate has the ability to join the NRL’s top tier No.1s – if he adds one thing to his game.
“He’s one of the most humble, nicest humans you’ll come across,” said Hynes, who returns from injury against the Dragons in the derby at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on Sunday.
“Will doesn’t want the limelight or any fuss made about him. But he’s someone you want in your team. At the end of his career, teammates will say he’s the first one you wanted in your team.
“He never complains or blows up about anything, and it’s always team first.
“I’d actually like to see him grow in confidence, improve and probably get a little bit of arrogance about himself, and [know] he can be a top tier fullback in this competition. You just have to have that belief.
Will Kennedy takes on South Sydney’s Cody Walker in the opening round at Shark Park.Credit:NRL Photos
“He’s quiet, humble and has that chilled-out mindset, [but] I’d rather him grab this competition by the balls and go, ‘I’m one of the best fullbacks in this game’, and go after it.
“If he does that, he’ll be a hard man to stop, and a big reason why we can be a force for the premiership.”
Kennedy scored a try and set up another against Canberra in round three, bagged a hat-trick against the Eels in round two and was solid in a losing side against Souths in the opening round.
The 25-year-old has never been one to talk himself up, but his Sharks teammates were happy to.
Winger Ronaldo Mulitalo said coach Craig Fitzgibbon often singled out Kennedy for special praise.
“Fitzy acknowledges what people don’t see, and he speaks about how important he is to our team and his effort areas,” Mulitalo said. “He chased down Jake Averillo in a trial game. It was a trial. That shows the type of player he is.
“We tell him how much we love having him around. He’s just an awesome dude.”
Kennedy is in the process on brokering a new deal in the Shire. The last time his contract was up, he attracted interest from St George Illawarra, but stayed at the club he has loved since he moved from Bathurst when he was 16.
Kennedy is a keen artist, enjoys basketball and idolised Rhys Wesser and Preston Campbell growing up. His father, Bubba Kennedy, a centre for Balmain in the 1990s, still makes the four-hour round trip to attend most home games in the Shire.
An ankle injury towards the end of last season meant Kennedy went into the finals underdone, but a solid pre-season and a simple message from Fitzgibbon to get his hands on the ball more and run, have the proud Gamilaraay man primed for a big year. It continues against St George Illawarra, a club keen to sign him the last time he was off-contract, on Sunday evening.
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