Broncos prop Martin Kennedy has promised a big finish to 2014 after delivering a stinging self-appraisal of his form so far this season. Credit: Col Whelan. Copyright: NRL Photos
He was spared the embarrassment by the question no longer appearing but Broncos prop Marin Kennedy has admitted that he has been so disappointed in his form this year that he genuinely feared being named by his peers as the most over-rated player in the NRL.
The polarising question that had been a mainstay of Rugby League Week's annual player poll up until last year had in the past claimed such notable scalps as Brad Fittler, Braith Anasta, Jamie Lyon and Justin Hodges and Kennedy feared he was right in the running in 2014 in his maiden season as a Bronco.
One of Brisbane's most significant signings of the off-season, Kennedy was seen as the muscle needed to beef up a Broncos pack lacking in size but in 11 appearances thus far has failed to recapture the form that once had him touted as a future Queensland representative.
His critics have been scathing, but nothing compares to the stinging self-appraisal he offered ahead of Thursday night's clash with South Sydney at ANZ Stadium.
"Pretty f*****' ordinary to be honest," was Kennedy's summation of his own form thus far in 2014.
"I was a little bit nervous when they brought out the old player poll. I'm not sure if they have their most over-rated player any more but I was pretty nervous that I was going to get that tag this year.
"Obviously there has been plenty said about me coming up to the Broncos and I haven't delivered on any front so to be honest it's been pretty upsetting.
"I haven't handled it all this year and I don't know where I go from here. I'm just looking at it like we have a handful of games left to get ourselves into the finals and I want to be doing everything I possibly can to be in the team each week and doing everything I can to win games for us.
"The way I see it, if we get into the finals and give a good ourselves a good showing and give the competition a really good shake, what happens in March and April and June is pretty irrelevant if you're in there playing in the big stadiums come September."
Signed to the Broncos from the Roosters on a lucrative three-year deal, Kennedy suffered the ignominy of being dropped to play with Ipswich in the Intrust Super Cup mid-season, a decision he said he found difficult to deal with initially but which actually helped to reinvigorate his love of the game.
With incoming coach Wayne Bennett not one known to invest big dollars in his big men up front, Kennedy reaffirmed his commitment to the club and a willingness to repay the faith shown by the Broncos to bring him back to Brisbane.
"I love it here and I've probably got to repay a little bit of the faith they have shown in me to get me up here so I'm more than happy to be here," said the 25-year-old former PM's XIII representative.
"It's an exciting time to be a Bronco. You see guys like Ben Hunt who is jumping out of his skin this year, players like [Andrew] McCullough, [Sam] Thaiday and [Corey] Parker who is coming up on 300 games and is in the Australian side. I don't think there would be many players to have played 300 games still playing for Australia.
"It's a great squad and I really want to be a Bronco for as long as I can."
There were promising signs for the Broncos when Kennedy ran for 139 metres against his former club back in Round 3 but that is the only time this year he has busted through the 100-metre barrier.
But rather than look at statistics such as metres made, tackles made and missed tackles to gauge his contribution, Kennedy is focused on the metre either side of the tackle and winning those individual battles.
"There was a lot said earlier in the year obviously about stats and all that sort of stuff and it's pretty hard to compare stats when you're playing all different minutes," said Kennedy, who has started in just four of 11 games so far this season.
"The only thing that matters to me is what happens a metre before contact and a metre after contact. If I'm not winning that small amount of space I know I'm not having a good game and I haven't done that this year.
"Play-the-ball speed is obviously a big one and aggression and intensity in defence and there just hasn't been any of that. It's been something that I've really struggled with and something I would have liked to have sorted out a lot earlier on this year.
"It's funny how it comes and goes. I felt like I had it under control earlier in my career and it's just disappointing that it's escaped me this year."