Rugby League

Canberra Raiders reunite brothers Jarrod and Rhys Kennedy

Canberra Raiders forward Jarrad Kennedy wants more weight to have a bigger impact in the NRL, while little brother Rhys is prepared to wait for his big shot at the top grade.

TheKennedy brothers from the south coast town of Tuross Heads are dreaming of playing NRL together, 20-year-old Rhys having left the Melbourne Storm to reunite with Jarrad at the Raiders on a two-year deal.

Double trouble: Jarrad Kennedy has been joined at the Canberra Raiders by his brother Rhys, who was at the Melbourne Storm.
Double trouble: Jarrad Kennedy has been joined at the Canberra Raiders by his brother Rhys, who was at the Melbourne Storm. Photo: Jay Cronan

Jarrad is the big brother, the 25-year-old back-rower who enjoyed a breakout season in 2014. But Rhys is the bigger of the brothers, a developing prop standing 196cm tall and weighing 103kg.

Now living and training together in Canberra, with an extended Raiders pre-season squad, the Kennedy boys are aiming to follow Raiders siblings such as Steve and Kevin Walters, John and David Lomax, Joel and Michael Monaghan and Joe and Mick Picker.

"It's a long way away, I've got a lot of hard work to do, but if I do get to play with him [in the NRL] it would be a dream," Rhys said.

Jarrad Kennedy had to wait a long time for his own opportunity. The back-row utility, who has "never give up" tattooed on his arm, played only six games in his first two NRL seasons. He started in 18 of his 20 NRL matches in 2014, including some in the centres.

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But Jarrad has put on 3kg in the off-season, aiming to play at 99kg and add more punch in the pack. 

"I've proven to myself I can hold that position and match it with some of the bigger names in the competition," Jarrad said. "It was a bit daunting coming up against people like Sonny Bill Williams, but it gives you confidence and the boys around you too.

"You look at the best back-rowers in the game, we've got [Josh Papalii], I've gone away and put some more weight on in the off-season.... I'm just trying to keep that weight on me so I can have a bit more power at the line.

"There's a lot more depth this year, we've bought a couple more players and there's more competition. That's great for the club and it's just going to push me harder to hold my spot."

The Raiders have added former New Zealand international Iosia Soliola from the UK Super league, while emerging players such as Patrick Mago, Luke Bateman and Tevita Pangai will soon push for NRL starts.

Jarrad, off contract at the end of next season, admitted that 2014 had been pivotal.

"I had to break through or it wasn't going to happen. It was a great chance with [coach] Ricky [Stuart] coming to the club and showing him what I've got."

Rhys Kennedy was on the radar of the Raiders as a junior too, but chose Melbourne because he wanted to find his own way.

"We've always talked about him coming back here after that contract and being able to maybe have the chance to play together," Jarrad said. "He's got a lot of work to do, but he's only young and he's got a lot of time ahead of him."

The Raiders plan to be patient with Rhys and put some bulk on his giant frame, the 20-year-old prepared to bide his time in NSW Cup. But he also saw 22-year-old prop Shannon Boyd debut last year and play 21 NRL matches.

"I saw a better pathway here," Rhys said. "Obviously Ricky's turned the culture around here, I thought it'd be a better opportunity for myself and my footy."