Kimmorley farewells Cronulla as a hero - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Kimmorley farewells Cronulla as a hero

By Darren Walton 13/09/2008 08:39:14 PM Comments (0)

He arrived at Cronulla as public enemy No.1 but may well depart in three weeks' time as the NRL club's ultimate saviour.

Brett Kimmorley has indeed come a long way since the days irate Sharks fans hurled abuse at their very own halfback for his perceived part in forcing then-reigning Dally M Medallist Preston Campbell out of the club.

Hearty cheers replaced those venomous jeers on Saturday night when Kimmorley ran out for his last match at Shark Park before linking with the Bulldogs next season.

There was more warm applause when the veteran No.7 left the field after inspiring Cronulla to a 36-10 qualifying final triumph over Canberra, the Sharks faithful sensing the key to a maiden premiership in 41 long years lay in Kimmorley's hands.

Turning 32 on Monday, Kimmorley continued his vintage season with six try assists to propel the Sharks to a likely semi-final next weekend against the Sydney Roosters.

So enthusiastic was Kimmorley that he even attempted to pack down in the front row in order to get a scrum happening when the Sharks were attacking deep in Raiders territory as the clock wound down to halftime.

But it was nothing more than Kimmorley has always produced for the Sharks - week in, week out, year after year.

In seven seasons and 139 games, including all 25 in 2008, the little warrior has literally busted a ball, a shoulder, an elbow and last year somehow played with a broken wrist for the entire campaign without the injury ever making the public domain.

He has chased down his own kicks, continually tackled men twice his size, even had the captaincy taken from him - but not once complained.

In fact, Kimmorley says confronting hurdles has just helped him jump higher.

"There was turmoil when I came here, with Preston Campbell the half," Kimmorley said in the lead-up to his farewell encounter at Toyota Stadium.

"'Opes' (then Cronulla coach and close ally Chris Anderson) told me to just let my football do the talking."

Kimmorley might have folded after Ricky Stuart, then NSW coach and now Cronulla mentor, made him the scapegoat for the Blues' State of Origin loss in 2005 when he threw the fateful intercept pass that handed Queensland victory.

Or he could have spat the dummy when Stuart decided mid-season he was surplus to requirements in 2009.

Instead, Kimmorley just knuckled down and proceeded to play the best football of his career - and guide the Sharks to equal first in the minor premiership.

"When I knew I wasn't going to be here and Canterbury picked me up, I dealt professionally with the situation," Kimmorley said.

Professionally enough for the former Test half to finish fourth in the Dally M, just one man-of-the-match performance shy of winning medallist Matt Orford.

Now a much-loved hero in the Cronulla community who featured on the front page of today's local newspaper, Kimmorley's excellent final home game was a fitting postscript to his Sharks career.

He will leave holding several club records, including most points by a Cronulla player in a single season after racking up 251 on debut in 2002 from 14 tries, 97 goals and a field goal.

His 28 points from two tries and a record 10 conversions in the Sharks' 64-14 rout of Newcastle that same season is also a club high.

Sharks fans, though, are hoping Kimmorley can lead the club to its greatest-ever high on grand final day on October 5.

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