NRL Round 2: Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon praises hat-trick hero Will Kennedy

Cronulla Sharks head coach Craig Fitzgibbon has praised Will Kennedy, revealing the club are in discussions to re-sign the fullback for 2024.

In a high-scoring affair against the Eels on Friday night, Kennedy’s first career hat-trick proved to be the difference as the visitors escaped with a 30-26 win at CommBank Stadium.

The 25-year-old crossed for three out of Cronulla’s five tries while fill-in halfback Braydon Trindall had a perfect night with the boot, while five-eighth Matt Moylan wound back the clock with a classy display. 

Speaking to the media after the game, Fitzgibbon lauded Kennedy for his importance to the club.

MORE: Brad Arthur laments missed opportunities in nail-biting loss

“I don’t think Will gets the credit he deserves for what he provides our team,” he said.

“The players love playing alongside him and his positional play is actually really high-level.

“It was unfortunate he dropped that kick, but it was still a special night for Will with the way he played tonight.

“We love having him.”

Kennedy remains unsigned for next year alongside second-rower Teig Wilton, but is no certainty to remain in the Shire long-term, with the likes of sidelined young gun Kade Dykes pushing for the No.1 job from underneath.

But the head coach made no secret of his desire to hang on to Kennedy, but remained coy on the details of the ongoing contract negotiations.  

“Plenty of discussion there – that will happen,” Fitzgibbon said.

“We are to-ing and fro-ing a little bit there, but we’re still in the process of looking at keeping Will.

“It’s probably not to discuss where the actual situation is at this current point in time, but he is important to us.”

Cronulla gave up an early lead against the Eels, but the side managed to capitalise on Clint Gutherson’s 15-minute HIA absence to get back into the game in the first-half.

Fitzgibbon was impressed by the strong second-half defence on their own line, as well as holding off a late flurry from last year’s grand finalists with less than a minute remaining.

“It was wild in the box – I’m sure it was a cracking game for the neutrals to watch,” he said.

“It was ebbing and flowing and both teams were going at it. You don’t come here and get a free hit.

“I thought we had an opportunity to put the screws into them, so I’m a bit disappointed we let them off the hook – but I’m also proud of the spirit and effort amongst them.

“We’ll get the tactical and technical parts right, but relying on each other like we did tonight, I’m happy about that.


“We had one particular period there where it was six-again and six-again and it was tryline defence. At that time, we weren’t playing that well, but that was the spirit amongst them just to talk their way through it – they just found a way.

“Once we got going again, we managed to get enough points there. There will always be stuff to address, but I’m proud of that effort because that was a tough period for us and they are a good team.”

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