Eagles' Kennedy ready to seize the moment - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Eagles' Kennedy ready to seize the moment

Justin Chadwick 09/09/2011 03:18:46 PM Comments (0)

West Coast forward Josh Kennedy couldn't take a trick early in his AFL career.

After two success-starved seasons at Carlton, where he played in just three wins from 22 games, the 196cm spearhead thought team glory was finally on its way after crossing to heavyweights West Coast as part of the famous Chris Judd trade at the end of 2007.

But like an investor buying in at the worst possible time, Kennedy endured three more years of heartbreak as the Eagles crashed from premiership contenders to wooden spooners.

By the end of 2010, Kennedy had played 67 matches for 14 wins - a paltry winning percentage of 20.9.

That record by no means reflected the input of Kennedy, who had steadily established himself as one of the best key forwards in the competition.

Last year, in a side that won just four games for the whole season, Kennedy booted a credible 41.19, with his powerful marking and tireless work ethic a rare highlight in the Eagles' gloomy campaign.

This year Kennedy has taken his game to even greater heights, registering 52.33 - including a bag of 10 against the Bulldogs - to help West Coast snare fourth spot with a 17-5 win-loss record.

Kennedy will get his first taste of finals action in Saturday's qualifying final showdown against Collingwood at the MCG.

And after waiting six years to get to this point, the 24-year-old can't wait to grab the opportunity with both hands.

"I had a couple of years at the Blues which weren't too great, got the wooden spoon there," Kennedy reflected this week.

"But coming over here (at the end of '07) with the success that West Coast had achieved, I was probably looking to have a few more wins.

"It didn't end up happening and we ended up getting the wooden spoon last year, so I'm two from two.

"But this year has just been surreal, it's been great to win.

"I don't regret any decision I've made and to come back over west and play here has been great.

"I'm rapt to be here."

Kennedy said there was a growing belief amongst West Coast's players that they could knock off Collingwood, who suddenly appear vulnerable following last week's 96-point loss to Geelong.

"We know that if we stick to our four-quarter intensity and have our forward press going then not many teams can really match us," he said.

"So if we can have that on Saturday we'll definitely win."

Kennedy praised fellow forwards Mark LeCras, Mark Nicoski and Quinten Lynch for their special efforts this season.

But Kennedy saved his biggest praise for first-year forward Jack Darling, whose tackling intensity in the forward line has been vital to the team's success.

"He's been exceptional. He's come in with a bang," Kennedy said.

"His forward pressure, his tackling, his efforts have really set the standards for everyone, and we've all followed."

The Eagles, buoyed by a run of seven wins on the trot, have been boosted by the return of fit-again midfielder Daniel Kerr and defender Will Schofield.

The Magpies welcomed back skipper Nick Maxwell, Leon Davis and Heath Shaw, but fellow backman Ben Reid is likely to miss due to a groin injury.

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