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I’ve enjoyed every second: Kennedy

Kennedy chose a great time to register the first goal of his career. Swinging onto that trusty left boot, Kennedy brought Collingwood within two straight kicks of leveling the scores in time on of the third quarter against Fremantle in round seven. Unfortunately the Magpies would only kick two more goals for the game. Kennedy chose a great time to register the first of his career. Swinging onto that trusty left boot, Kennedy brought Collingwood within two straight kicks of leveling the scores in time on of the third quarter against Fremantle in round seven. Unfortunately the Magpies would only kick two more goals for the game.
Ben Kennedy sends Collingwood into attack in his side's 62-point win over West Coast in round 22.

Last month’s National Draft was a momentous occasion for the 62 youngsters added to an AFL list.

It was also a cause for reflection for those such as Ben Kennedy whose life had changed when he was added to Collingwood’s list with selection No. 19 in the previous year’s intake.

“It has gone very, very quickly,” Kennedy reflected.

“It seems like only yesterday that I did get drafted but I’ve enjoyed every second that I’ve been at this club and the club’s already shown so much faith in me.

Read collingwoodfc.com.au's review of Kennedy's season.

“I was reasonably happy with my year without being satisfied. I’m just looking forward to going into next year more than anything and working on the year that I’ve just had.”

Kennedy played 12 games and kicked nine goals from 15 scoring shots in his first season at the highest level.

The South Australian made an impression as an on-baller during his time at junior level but it was in the forward pocket that he made his mark at Collingwood in 2013.

While happy to have the experience of the past 12 months under his belt, Kennedy is keen to push further up the ground should the opportunity present itself.

“I do know that I did get drafted as a midfielder and I definitely plan to play in the midfield eventually,” he told collingwoodfc.com.au.

“That’s definitely my goal coming into next year.

“Obviously you’ve got to earn your stripes first before you can just walk in. I’m just looking to build on last season. I believe that I’m a better player for last year already and I’ll be going into next season with a bit of confidence.”

Kennedy showed what he was capable of when he kicked five goals from 10 scoring shots in the space of a fortnight mid-season while totalling 37 possessions.

Those performances against Brisbane and Melbourne helped him feel at home out on the big stage, but his inaccuracy in front of goal left him feeling a little frustrated.

“To be honest, I believe I should have kicked more goals because I did miss a few and I was a bit shaky in front of goals this year.

“It definitely gave me confidence that I was getting shots at goal, and that was part of the feedback that the coaching staff gave me.

“Obviously I’m not one to shy away and I believe that I can be a good player at senior level so it definitely gave me a lot of confidence and I’ll build on that next year.”

First year players often find themselves wearing the substitute’s vest at some stage of their season and Kennedy was no exception.

He was involved as a substitute in six of his 12 senior games, playing less than 35 per cent of five games.

“I usually found out a day or two days before a game,” he explained.

“I was young and new to it all and I just wanted to play full games.

“I guess the way I approached it was seeing it as another opportunity to show what I was capable of and what I could put forward. I was always knocking on the coach’s door asking what I had to do to get a full game.

“I was definitely very keen to play, but in my first year I was more than happy to be on the ground either way. I saw it as another opportunity.

One of the challenges Kennedy faced was making an impact late in a game that was either on the line or had already been decided.

Both scenarios pose their own pros and cons, but Kennedy believes having the right mindset allowed him to slip into the flow of the match.

“I think the game against Geelong (when the Magpies won by six points) was probably one of the more memorable games I played this year.

“Even though I did play only about 10 minutes it was probably my favourite game for the year. I still felt a part of the win and I remember coming on and playing on Joel Selwood, which was a good experience for me.

“At the end of the game I’d forgotten that I was the sub, I still felt a part of it and to be a part of a win like that was great.”

And the flipside?

“Against Sydney (when Collingwood lost by 47 points in round nine) was a different story.

“I still came on and had a crack. The result was the result and there was not much I could do about it but I think at the end of the game you still feel a part of it.”

Away from football, Kennedy is living with fellow second year Magpie Adam Oxley. It’s a friendship that has helped bring out the best in each other – on the domestic front, at least.

“Me and Ox are probably best mates at the club now,” Kennedy smiled.

“To think that I’ve only known him for 12 months…it seems like I’ve known him for a lot longer.

“We work really well together and he’s very disciplined with his sleep where as I probably need a bit of help with things like that, and then there’s things that I bring to the table like being the house cook.

“So, if I can cook, he can help me maintain my sleep. We work really well together.”

Key AFL Statistics (12 games; averages in brackets)
Disposals: 141 (11.8) Marks: 20 (1.7) Tackles: 20 (1.7) Inside 50s: 22 (1.8) Contested Possessions: 62 (5.2) Clearances: 16 (1.3) Score Assists: 4 (0.3)

Key VFL Statistics (7 games; averages in brackets)

Disposals: 171 (24.4) Marks: 27 (3.9) Tackles: 15 (2.1) Inside 50s: 26 (3.7) Contested Possessions: 66 (9.4) Clearances: 28 (4.0) Score Assists: 9 (1.3)