William Kennedy has found his own way to the NRL. Picture: Dean Lewins/AAP
William Kennedy has found his own way to the NRL. Picture: Dean Lewins/AAP

New Sharks No.1 didn’t get there the easy way

CRONULLA'S William Kennedy isn't like many other rookies.

The 22-year old didn't have club scouts and player agents chasing his signature as a teenager. He wasn't mollycoddled on his journey to an NRL debut.

Kennedy's achievements are by his own design.

The outside back was so committed to playing professional rugby league, he packed his bags and decided to move to Sydney from Bathurst of his own accord as a 17-year old.

"I heard that Kirinari Hostel takes in footy boys and gives children from the country some opportunity. So I told my parents I had to move so I could get somewhere and it's got me to where I am today," he said.

Based in the Sutherland Shire, the Kirinari Hostel provides accommodation to Aboriginal people who need to be away from home to access education, employment and health services in the city.

"I told my mum and dad I want to move to Sydney and make this dream come true. They were surprised at first they didn't want to me leave," Kennedy said.

William’s dad is former Balmain player
William’s dad is former Balmain player "Bubba" Kennedy.

"I was still 17 when I moved to Kirinari Hostel. I went to Endeavour Sports High School and played footy there and I played my junior league at Cronulla Caringbah. I got picked up from there."

Kennedy fulfilled his life-long dream to become an NRL footballer last weekend, fittingly on his birthday, for the Sharks against Penrith.

His father, William "Bubba" Kennedy, who himself played 61 games for Balmain between 1996-1998, made the trip from Bathurst to present his son with his jersey.

"He did the jumper presentation and before the game he told me to back myself, back my ability and play hard," Kennedy said.

"The emotions were pretty high for my family and myself. My uncle Steven Lane he was there too, he played a bit of footy with my dad in the country and those two have taught what I know now."

Kennedy revealed that touching moment in the sheds was one of many he and his father had experienced as a result of their common love for the game of rugby league.

The father-and-son duo have the unique claim of playing together in the same side as a centre-wing combination only two years ago.

"We played together in the Koori Knockout - it was an unreal moment," Kennedy said.

"It's very physical and is just as tough as the NRL. I was on the outside of him, he was a centre and he put me down the sideline a few times.

"It was an unbelievable feeling to play with your dad - not many blokes get that experience."

Kennedy will line up at fullback against Brisbane on Saturday night and if his father's pedigree is anything to go by, the rising star is set for a long career in the top grade.

Kennedy Sr is playing in his 22nd season of bush footy in the Group 10 competition this year.

"I ask him every day how he does it," Kennedy said.

"He goes to boot camp with my sisters back in Bathurst and tries to keep fit. He's 51, he's slowing in pace but he still has the skills there."