Kennedy thrilled at tight finish

Josh Kennedy at the SCG on Tuesday. Photo: Ryan Pierse Josh Kennedy at the SCG on Tuesday. Photo: Ryan Pierse

Josh Kennedy at the SCG on Tuesday. Photo: Ryan Pierse

Josh Kennedy at the SCG on Tuesday. Photo: Ryan Pierse

For the briefest of moments, it looked as though Josh Kennedy and Lance Franklin – sitting roughly a metre apart as the votes were read out during Monday’s Brownlow Medal count – were about to share the game’s biggest individual honour.

Two medals were on hand at the SCG in case the fantasy was realised. They ultimately fell short as West Coast’s Matt Priddis surged from obscurity to reach 26 votes, four clear of Franklin and another clear of Kennedy.

But for Kennedy, the rush of he and Franklin getting so close made for a thrilling start to a week they hope will end with a glorious grand final triumph against their old club.

“It began to get pretty nerve-racking to be honest. Seeing ‘Buddy’ and myself up there towards the end made it a bit more exciting than it has been in previous years,” he told Fairfax Media. “You try not to think too far ahead, but then you see your name going up and up and you start to wonder what might happen.

“But in the end, I was actually really rapt for Matt Priddis to finish outright on top. He had a tremendous season and he’s such a humble person – you could see that in his acceptance speech.”

Still 26, Kennedy will surely be in contention for the medal again, especially if he can produce another campaign as the biggest cog in the Swans’ brilliant engine room, averaging a career-high 29 touches this season.

“It was a slow start to the season but I think, since then, we’ve just been so consistent as a team, right to the end, and I’m fortunate to be a part of that,” he said. “We’ve got so many great players that have played well for us and I’ve got no doubt that’s helped my game.”

Given so little separates Sydney and Hawthorn on paper – dangerous forward lines, disciplined defences and brilliant midfields – Kennedy is only too aware of the need to be switched on for 120 minutes this Saturday.

“It’s already got that toss-of-a-coin feel about it,” he said. “There’s nothing between the two sides heading in, which is why we can’t take anything for granted.”

Sydney came up trumps against the Hawks in an epic decider two years ago, and the Swans feel they’re even better prepared this time.

“We’ll be a bit more relaxed and try to enjoy the week a bit more. Now we know when to switch off and then switch on,” he said. “It’s a fantastic week; from all the media interest, to training in front of the fans and the parade in Melbourne. Having been through it before really helps.”

Much has been made of how Sydney’s style has evolved in an offensive capacity but Kennedy sees more similarities than differences in comparing the team’s approach to 2012.

“The basis of our approach is still the same – it’s always been the same, actually,” he said. “The personnel is a little bit different, obviously, but the changes in our play haven’t been that overwhelming.”

Kennedy is especially proud of his teammates for getting back to the top this year after slipping off the perch last season.

“Looking back, we were probably too tired after 2012. We felt we could have been there on the last Saturday in September but ran out of legs,” he said. “To bounce back and be in a grand final this year has been great because you never know how many times that opportunity can come.”

As a member of the most famous family in Hawthorn history, Kennedy has had to deal with the bloodline being split in its loyalty.

“John seinor [Kennedy’s grandfather and three-time premiership coach] will always support Hawthorn, which is fair enough. But I’m hoping the rest of the clan will back the Swans,” he said. “I think we’ll even get Dulcie [John snr’s wife], and she’s the Hawks’ No.1 ticket holder, which I’m pretty happy about.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.