Brett Kimmorley a Bulldog for life?
Kimmorley – along with fellow recruits Ben Hannant and Michael Ennis – was again exceptional for the new-look Bulldogs yesterday, defying his 32 years and 268 first grade games to help overhaul an early 12-0 deficit to eventually claim a remarkable 30-20 victory at Canberra Stadium.
The veteran of six clubs was unwanted by Cronulla – who this season find themselves languishing in last place – but Bulldogs coach Kevin Moore said today that Kimmorley would never again be told it was time to go.
“If he keeps playing as well as he is at the moment he can stay as long as he wants,” Moore told NRL.com.
“As far as I’m concerned he is playing the best football of his career and he has made a huge difference at this club since arriving in the off-season.
“At the end of the day it’s up to Brett to decide how his body is holding up and if he wants to keep playing beyond next season but I don’t see any reason why not.
“I mean, Jason Smith played until he was 36 and he was still an exceptional player when he finally called it quits.
“Hopefully ‘Noddy’ can do the same.”
The Bulldogs were by far the most active club in the market last year, reacting to a horror two seasons with a much-needed cleanout and splashing out for Kimmorley, hooker Ennis, prop Ben Hannant, back-rower Michael Hodgson and speedster Josh Morris, among others.
The results have been as fast arriving as they have been impressive with Kimmorley, Ennis and Hannant standouts in the side’s recent winning run.
Asked which he would rate as the buy of the year, Moore refused to split them but said he couldn’t have asked for any better after seven rounds of the competition.
“I couldn’t name any one player that has been better than the others – they’ve all contributed tremendously – so I’ll leave that up to you to decide,” he said.
“All I know is that the players have done everything that has been asked of them and they are enjoying what we have started to build at this club.
“You look at a guy like Ben Hannant – we brought him down in the hope that he would be a leader at our club and he has exceeded expectations.
“We knew we were getting a very good player but he has been one of our major contributors all year.
“It’s great to have players in the side that take it upon themselves to lead by example and that goes not only for the new players but also guys like Andrew Ryan.”
Moore also reserved praise for Ennis, who is engaged in an enthralling battle with Wests Tigers hooker Robbie Farah for a spot in the NSW State of Origin side.
“His past few weeks have been excellent, he just keeps getting better and better,” Moore said.
“He certainly has his hat in the ring for Origin.”
Just 12 months ago the Bulldogs were a club in turmoil, with Sonny Bill Williams joining a long list of unhappy departees alongside former team-mates Willie Mason, Mark O’Meley, Nate Myles and more recently Reni Maitua.
Long-serving coach Steve Folkes was also a casualty of the club’s purge, but the speed of their recovery has stunned even the most ardent Bulldogs supporter.
“I always thought that I had a good squad to work with and I was very happy with how the off-season went but I never actually put a target on where I wanted to be at this stage of the season or anything like that,” Moore said.
“It was more about re-building the club’s spirit so that we could be successful again.
“We spoke a fair bit as a group about having fun – because I think that went missing a little bit when everything was happening – and bringing everyone together.
“I think it’s fair to say that we’ve achieved that.”