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Kennedy does it his way on path to NRL success

It's not every day a teenage son walks into the country family home and tells his parents of his intentions to move out and relocate to Sydney with no guarantee of a professional career in sight.

With no guarantee of a rugby league contract and not even appearing as a blip on the radar of clubs, Sharks rookie Will Kennedy did it all his way.

The son of William "Bubba" Kennedy, who played 61 games for Balmain in the 1990s, packed his bags and headed to the Kirinari Aboriginal hostel in Sylvania.

The hostel was founded in 1967, coincidentally the same year Cronulla entered the NSWRL, offering accommodation to Indigenous Australians who need to be away from home to access life-changing education, employment, health and other services.

From there, he began to pave his way towards a debut in the NRL, which came on his 22nd birthday last week in the thrilling win over the Panthers.

"I'd only heard good things about the place," Kennedy, who will line up for his second NRL appearance at fullback against the Broncos on Saturday night, told NRL.com.

"I did a bit of research and decided to stay there for a while so I could chase my dream. I played a bit of local footy in Cronulla which was different to bush footy in Bathurst.

Sharks fullback William Kennedy.
Sharks fullback William Kennedy. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

"There was less structure and it's probably just built on toughness. I went to Endeavour Sports High and got picked up by the Sharks. It's all escalated since."

Toughness as Kennedy puts it, comes in spades through the family tree with his father, who still resides in Bathurst and plays in the local Group 10 league at 50 years of age, leading the way.

But William jnr says it's his sister, NRLW Roosters player Kandy, who is the star of the family.

Kandy Kennedy.
Kandy Kennedy. ©Nathan Hopkins/NRL Photos

Growing up with four sisters, Kandy was Will's go-to option when it came to backyard footy.

"She was probably tougher than me growing up," Kennedy said.

"She plays like my dad, just tough. Everyone said she is a better player and probably still is. She's good to talk to as well and has just come back from a knee injury.

"I watched her games last year and she came to my debut last week."

Kennedy had little time to think about his NRL debut with Sharks coach John Morris dropping the bombshell on the 22-year-old before the side's final training session 24 hours out from kick-off.

"The night before I was nervous, didn't get a whole lot of sleep," Kennedy said.

"I couldn't believe it, a day before my birthday. I let my parents know and they came from Bathurst straight away. Dad was just excited for me but when I called my mum she burst into tears.

"That's something I'll remember forever."