Manly coach tips a blinder for Kennedy - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Manly coach tips a blinder for Kennedy

By Todd Balym 08/06/2006 09:14:11 PM Comments (0)

This is the bonus Manly had in mind when they gave inspirational backrower Ben Kennedy the Sea Eagles captaincy this year.

With Steve Menzies, Brent Kite and Steven Bell all away on Origin duty, Manly coach Des Hasler has tipped Kennedy to have "a blinder" when he leads the Eagles onto Brookvale Oval for Friday night's NRL clash against the Wests Tigers.

It is the first time Kennedy will play for the Eagles during the representative season having retired from Origin and Test football earlier this year.

He missed the Eagles' 34-12 win over Melbourne at Origin I time with a calf injury but is fit and fired up to lead his side to another two points on Friday.

"You can expect a blinder out of him (Kennedy)," said Hasler.

"He is really focused and ready for this game.

"He will have a big one tomorrow. He will be a big influence for us.

"Even his quiet games are at a high standard for other individuals."

Manly are currently sixth on the NRL ladder with 16 points, two ahead of the ninth-placed Tigers.

But Hasler knows if his team is to fulfil its potential as genuine NRL title contenders they must keep winning games through the middle of the year and remain among the frontrunners.

"We need to keep ticking the points over, keep winning games," he said.

"If we win these games we stay in the top eight and that can turn into the top six and then perhaps a top four finish.

"The Tigers are going very well at the moment. Talk about exciting, they attack from all over the park and have been really hitting form the last two weeks and obviously they are in the position too where they need to keep winning games to try and stay with the top eight.

"They will be coming in fairly desperate but we will do what it takes to win."

While Hasler predicts Kennedy to have an influence, he believes the halfback battle between Matt Orford and Scott Prince will be just as valuable.

The Sea Eagles coach rates their clash as a battle of the Origin understudies, with both unlucky to miss selection for Origin II and desperate to stake claims for the final match of the series.

"They are two quality halves, probably the two halves next picked for Origin the way they are playing," said Hasler.

"They are two great players, two great ball players and two players who will have a big influence on how well their side plays.

"The Tigers' two halves (Prince and Benji Marshall) and hooker (Robbie Farah) have been really laying the platform for them and are a pretty huge part in their game. We have to be on our guard against those three."

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