Stay at home: Dad’s advice pays off for Kennedy

Matthew Kennedy in action at the National Draft Combine. Image: Getty.

Matthew Kennedy was still getting used to playing in the TAC Cup when the draft value index and new bidding system were finalised earlier this year.

He figured he should read up on them, given they would have so much to do with whether he ended up at Greater Western Sydney or being drafted by another club.

This article originally appeared on The Age website.

By Emma Quayle.

But he didn’t spend too much time trying to pick through all the possibilities.

“I started, but it looked like something you could be reading for a long time. I thought, I don’t want to get too far into this,” he said.

“The way I see it is that, if another club wants to pick me, the Giants will either say ‘yeah, we’ll match it’ or ‘nah, we don’t want him, youse can have him’.”

Kennedy is one of the best few midfielders in this year’s draft, and it is impossible to imagine the Giants will let their smart, brave academy player end up at another team.

But it is only in the past nine months that he has started playing in the under-18 system, and allowed himself to start thinking that any club might be interested in him.

“It’s all happened pretty quickly and I had no idea what to really expect when I came into it this year,” he said. “I’ve sort of just gone along with it.”

At the same time, it is what he has always wanted.

Kennedy has grown up on a farm at Wagga Wagga, and football has always been the only thing likely to lure him away from it.

His favourite childhood memories are things he still does now: fight his three older brothers to drive the best bits of machinery.

“If it was to sit in an office and work, or even go to uni, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t move away,” he said. “But to play footy, you can take me anywhere. For footy, I’d do anything.”

Kennedy wasn’t a complete unknown when he turned up at the start of the season, playing a handful of TAC Cup games for the NSW-ACT RAMS before hurting his knee and missing the middle part of the season.

It wasn’t the disaster it could have been: he had already made it very clear, to others and even himself, that he was well and truly good enough.

He had been invited to take part in the Rams’ program when he was 14, but he was small for his age, he’d had some niggling injuries and his dad didn’t think he was ready for it.

Instead he stayed on the farm, playing his first senior game for Collingullie when he was 16, alongside James, Dan and Nick, his three brothers.

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