Young Sharks fullback Will Kennedy began 2021 in a fight to retain the number one jersey he had occupied for much of the 2020 season.
The likes of Connor Tracey and Luke Metcalf threw down the challenge with strong pre-seasons, however Kennedy responded and come round one was chosen to fill the fullback role.
From there, the 24-year-old continued to develop, improve and shine in becoming recognised amongst some of the elite No 1’s in the NRL and for his efforts, Kennedy has been named as the winner of the 2021 Porter-Gallen Medal as the Sharks Pontifex Player of the Year.
Just the second year of the award, with Shaun Johnson the inaugural recipient of the newly minted medal 12 months ago, Kennedy joins an illustrious list of former winners of the Sharks Player of the Year accolade, included amongst them the likes of Paul Gallen, Andrew Ettingshausen and more recently Andrew Fifita and Wade Graham.
As resilient as he has been brilliant, appearing in all 24 of the Sharks NRL matches in 2021, Kennedy was safe and strong at the back, while leading the team in tries scored (14, equal with Connor Tracey), line breaks (15) and try assists (14).
Recently re-signed, Kennedy’s form has been to such a high standard that new recruit Nicho Hynes, one of the Melbourne Storm’s best this season, has been pencilled in to fill a role in the halves next year, with his combination with the current Sharks fullback something exciting for members and fans to look forward to in 2022 and beyond.
In a breakthrough year for the former Bathurst native and proud indigenous man, Kennedy scooped the pool of annual Sharks NRL team awards.
In addition to the Porter-Gallen Medal for Pontifex Player of the Year, Kennedy also claimed the Tommy Bishop Player’s Player Award, in an indication his teammates appreciated his contribution equally as much as the coaching staff.
Kennedy was also named the Members Player of the Year, as voted upon by 2021 Sharks Members.
Other nominees for the Porter-Gallen Medal, in recognising the consistently high standard of their performances, were Blayke Brailey, Jack Williams and Connor Tracey, with all three making outstanding contributions throughout the 2021 season.