DONE AND DUSTED: Ben Kennedy leaves the field for the last time as a Manly player in the second round of the play-offs last yea
DONE AND DUSTED: Ben Kennedy leaves the field for the last time as a Manly player in the second round of the play-offs last yea

There're no regrets

By Adam Hicks

BEN KENNEDY knew Manly coach Des Hasler was building towards the 2007 NRL grand final when he joined the club in 2005. The former Casino lad and St John's College Woodlawn student helped turn around the Sea Eagles' fortunes before retiring from professional football at the end of last season. Instead of the big league, the man they call BK chose to buy a farm at Cedar Point and run a fruit shop in Brisbane. Now, as his team-mates get ready to tackle the Melbourne Storm in the NRL grand final on Sunday, Kennedy has no regrets at turning down what could have been a second NRL premiership. "Not at all," he said when asked if he had retired a season too soon. "I am 100 million per cent sure. I don't miss it at all. "It got too much for me. I got sick of training and sick of being in pain all the time." The season before Kennedy moved to Brookvale (2004), the Eagles finished 13th. In Kennedy's first year they made the finals but went out to minor premiers Parramatta in the first round of the play-offs. In his final season with the club, Manly rose to fifth. Despite the progression, Kennedy is reluctant to accept any kudos for helping transform the club's young forwards into one of the premiership's most formidable packs. "I was only at Manly for two years," he said. "Dessy wanted me to sign for three years because he thought that this (2007) would be the big year. "We weren't going too well then, but Manly bit the bullet and bought a couple of marquee players like Matt Orford and Jamie Lyon. "Des has built it into a very nice team." Kennedy travelled on the team bus after the Sea Eagles beat the Cowboys in the preliminary final last weekend, and is said to have delivered a stirring speech to the players. "I still feel part of the club," he said. "This is a happy time for me. I'm really enjoying watching them play. "If it had happened two years ago when I was still keen to play footy, I'd be shattered. "I speak to Dessy on occasion and I still have a lot of contact with the players. "I'm super proud of what they've been able to do. "It's awesome. They are a very good chance (of beating the Melbourne Storm). "They've been in good form all year. This is the perfect grand final the best two teams of the year." Although most of Kennedy's home town, Casino, will be barracking for their other local boy, Matt King and the Melbourne Storm, Kennedy said he was not worried about a lack of support. "I don't care who goes for Manly," he chuckled. "As long as the loyal supporters go for us we're happy. "We had so much support against the Cowboys it was like a home game, very eerie. "The boys will have enough support."

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