SHE knows it will be tough, but Kandy Kennedy is ready to step up for the Indigenous All Stars on Friday night when they do battle with the New Zealand Maori Ferns.
The Bathurst second-rower has represented the Indigenous outfit three times in her career thus far, but she wants to make an even stronger presence on the field this year.
She is keen to show just how much her game has developed since her last appearance in 2017.
“I’ve done a lot of work yes, but I’ve just got to keep working hard,” she said.
“It will definitely be physical. Some of the girls on the other team I’ve played against and I played with some of them, so it will be good.”
As a member of the Sydney Roosters’ inaugural Women’s NRL outfit which made last year’s grand final, Kennedy has tested her skills against some of the finest female league talents from Australia and New Zealand.
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Both Kennedy’s Indigneous outfit and the Maori Ferns boast players who have represented their country.
But the added passion that comes from representing an Indigenous team is something Kennedy knows will add an extra dimension to Friday’s clash at AAMI Park.
“It will be a tough game for sure, I can’t wait to see how it turns out. Each team will wear their heart on their sleeve, so it is going to be a cracker of a game,” she said.
“I feel like both teams know how each other play.”
With a number of experienced Indigenous players ruled out due to injuries or personal reasons, 13 of the squad have never before competed in an Indigenous jumper and five are under the age of 18.
It will mean added responsibility for players such as Kennedy.
“We do have a whole different team this year, a few of the girls are out like Lavina [O'Mealey], Nakia [Davis-Welsh] and Caitlin Moran, so we definitely have to step up,” she said.
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The plus side is that Kennedy and her team-mates will be keen to impress and as coach Dean Widders pointed out, there is plenty of speed across the park.
“We wanted to pick a quick side and a side that is young and enthusiastic and hungry leading into the next World Cup,” Widders told NRL.com.
“We already know that the Maoris are very passionate and very physical. They'll come out and play with a lot of hunger, so we need to match that and handle the toughness of what they’ll bring to the game - I think it’s really going to help us.”