Why Liam Ryan’s got Josh Kennedy very nervous

Liam Ryan loves a speccy. Photo: Getty
Liam Ryan loves a speccy. Photo: Getty

WEST Coast spearhead Josh Kennedy hopes his perfect run with Jack Darling continues, but admits the presence of teammate Liam Ryan in attack is making him a tad nervous.

The Eagles are a perfect 11-0 when Kennedy and Darling have played together this year and the partnership looms as a major trump card in Saturday’s preliminary final against Melbourne.

Darling (44 goals) has been in career-best form this season, while Kennedy has managed 36 goals in 12 games despite being struck down by two hairline fractures in his right leg.

With key Demons defender Jake Lever out for the rest of the season, the job of nullifying Kennedy and Darling is set to fall to Sam Frost and Oscar McDonald.

Kennedy tried his best to play down the significance of the 11-0 run he’s enjoyed with Darling, but praised the 26-year-old for taking his game to another level this year.

And he said the contribution of the club’s goalsneaks Ryan, Willie Rioli, Jamie Cripps and Mark LeCras had also played a critical role in the team’s success.

Ryan and Rioli excelled in the win over the Magpies and Kennedy wasn’t surprised.

“Some of the stuff that Willie does around the ball is extraordinary,” Kennedy said.

“You see it at training and he’s just a freak.

“And the way Liam’s come about with the way he plays his footy – he’s got so much excitement.

“I’m always nervous playing with him because I feel like I’m going to be on a footy card with him sitting on top of my head.

“He hasn’t taken a hangar on me yet, but we’ve still got another game (coming up).”

Kennedy, who hails from Northampton, revealed he had even played country footy against Ryan’s dad – Darren ‘Snotty’ Ryan – before entering the AFL system.

“He stood on heads, he kicked goals, he did everything,” Kennedy said.

“He was a pretty good footballer. Liam’s definitely following in his footsteps.”

Kennedy says he felt rusty in the qualifying final win over Collingwood when he booted 2.4 in his first match in seven weeks.

The 31-year-old hopes he has now blown out all of the cobwebs, but said there were no guarantees his leg couldn’t be fractured again.

“I’ve got the guard on now. She’s all pretty much healed now,” Kennedy said.

“We get scans every couple of weeks to make sure it’s calcifying and it has. It’s been pain free the last two weeks.

“But it’s football – if you get another knock in the sweet spot and it cracks again, that’s the way it goes.”