Crunch time for Kennedy

Matthew Kennedy is being widely-touted as a top ten draft prospect. (Photo by Michael Dodge/AFL Media)

After a frustrating season first-round draft chance Matthew Kennedy is hoping he has put his injury troubles behind him before next month’s National Draft Combine.

Kennedy missed several months through knee injury before stringing together a run of games at the end of the season.

“It’s good to be back playing now,” Kennedy said.

“Obviously missing 12 weeks it’s been hard to keep fit. Myself and a few other Wagga boys are going to get together and do a training program coming up to the Combine. I played RAMS and go to school with a few of the boys in other teams around the league. It’s always good fun to play against them.”

The 18-year-old returned to competitive action in Collingullie GP’s Riverina Football League Qualifying Final victory over Leeton-Whitton several weeks ago.

Since then Collingullie has gone on a fairy-tale run to the premiership, coming from fifth position to defeat Wagga in a Preliminary Final and overcoming Mangoplah CUE by 72 points in the Grand Final last weekend.

Kennedy contributed three goals to his side’s win on Sunday.

“It’s great to have won a premiership with ‘Gullie and now I can get stuck into training for the Combine.”

The 188cm midfielder, who has played in the top side at his home club since he was 16, credited playing senior football with his development.

“Playing against men really helped out. I didn’t play TAC Cup or anything last year so I think it was a bit easier to play after getting used to the physical side of things in the seniors.”

Kennedy was among the best players four times during his five TAC Cup games, averaging 23 disposals and a goal a game from the midfield.

A knee injury suffered playing club football meant he missed the Under 18 National Championships, though his TAC Cup performances were enough to warrant an invite to the National Combine.

“I’m suppose I’m a bit nervous. The 3km time-trial and the beep test are always tough so hopefully I can do well in those.”

During preseason Kennedy was among a group of four PM Capital GIANTS Academy members who spent a week training and living with GIANTS players.

“It was eye-opening to see just how hard it is. It is a full-time job, we didn’t even do all the running and were still fatigued at the end of it.”

Kennedy said GIANTS vice-captain Tom Scully was especially impressive.

“He was the fittest bloke there. His work-rate and running times were unbelievable.”

A Hawthorn fan, Kennedy said he tries to model his game on the Hawks midfielders.

“I like the contested stuff so I watch Luke Hodge, Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis. I try to be like Mitchell with his hands and his vision and how he uses the first option.”

The National Draft Combine begins in Melbourne on Thursday October 8, wrapping up on Sunday October 11.