Manly rests exhausted Kennedy

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Current Status: 24/7 Manly Fan
By Glenn Jackson
January 3, 2006

MANLY back rower Ben Kennedy will be given "as long as he wants" out of pre-season training commitments as Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler attempts to have his star forward fresh for the new NRL season.

The champion lock played 30 games last season - including nine representative fixtures.

Hasler confirmed yesterday Kennedy would not be returning to training this Thursday with his teammates after the Christmas break.

"It'll be his call when he comes back," said Hasler. "The more rest the better, really."

Hasler said he would not mind if Kennedy returned to training with the club at the end of January - two months after his last match, the Tri-Nations final against New Zealand.

"But if I know 'BK', he won't be able to stay away," said Hasler. "I think we'll see him in mid-January."

Even if the former Newcastle player returns in mid-January, he will not have appeared in Sea Eagles colours for four months.

Kennedy had a staggering workload during 2005, playing 21 matches for Manly, three for NSW and six for Australia.

It came after many predicted the Brookvale club's marquee signing last season would be a waste of money - inspirational but injury-plagued.

He averaged 70 minutes for Manly throughout 2005 and was a key reason for their remarkable turnaround from wooden spoon contenders to NRL finalists.

Only seven forwards played more games than the workaholic Kennedy in 2005, forcing Hasler to make the rare offer to ensure the 31-year-old doesn't face burn-out this season.

"He's been playing great for a long time. He's had two exhausting seasons - two years of football, two State of Origin series and two Tri-Nations," said Hasler.

"He just needs more rest than anything.

"The biggest thing for him is to come back in a good frame of mind. We've got to make sure he comes back fresh."

Hasler insisted Kennedy would not be disadvantaged by his late start when the Sea Eagles' season gets under way against Canberra on March 11.

"When he comes back, we know how to tweak him so he'll be ready physically," he said.

Kennedy is currently recovering from his rigorous 2005 at his property near Kyogle, on the NSW far north coast.

The Daily Telegraph

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