Kennedy to call it quits
By STEVE SPINKS
FORMER Casino Cougar Ben Kennedy has announced he will retire from international rugby league following Friday night's Test between Australia and New Zealand in Brisbane.
Kennedy, who was a junior Cougar, made the announcement at the Gold Coast where the Australian team is preparing for the clash with the Kiwis.
The Manly backrower said he would still make himself available for this year's State of Origin series, but not the Tri-Nations at the end of the year.
Kennedy, whose parents still live in the area, has bought a farm in the district and is keen to spend some time with his young family.
Casino rugby league club president Dene Petty said Kennedy's standing in the game had contributed enormously to local league.
"From a football point of view, the Casino junior league has far more kids now than at any other time," Petty said.
"One of the reasons for that is the success of Ben Kennedy, Matt King, Albert Torrens and Roy Bell."
Unfortunately, there may be a downside to Kennedy's selection in the Aussie squad.
It's likely he will not play in the City versus Country Origin match at Lismore's Oakes Oval in May due to a policy of the National Rugby League.
Test players are usually stood down from the State of Origin trial.
"If that's the case, it will be a shame," Petty said.
"I'd have thought there would have been a fair chance of having two Casino boys (with Matt King) in the Country team."
Petty, who is also a first grade prop with the Cougars, claims one of the highlights of his football career coincided with Kennedy.
"I coached him in the Casino under-15 team," Petty chuckled.
"To be quite honest, he was an ordinary sort of player.
"He wasn't overly endowed with ability, but he tried very hard and he had that will to win which stood out from the other kids."
"When he first made Australian Under-19 and Under-21 rugby union teams, I used to tell him that when he became famous he would have to mention me in all his speeches.
"I'm still waiting."