After three years in Wales, Goulburn's Ed Kennedy marked his return to Australia by achieving a childhood dream.
The 27-year-old back-rower recently signed a contract with the Brumbies for the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season, which he described as "a dream come true".
"I didn't really think it was going to happen, to be honest," Kennedy told the Post.
"Once I signed the contract, I was stoked. It still hasn't really sunk in, but I'm pretty proud to be given the chance to represent the Brumbies."
Having grown up in Goulburn, Kennedy moved to Sydney as a young man and played 40 games for Randwick in the Shute Shield.
In 2018, Kennedy was snapped up by the Scarlets - a Welsh team based out of Llanelli - and soon made his debut in the European Rugby Champions Cup.
After three seasons, during which time he became a mainstay in the team's back row, Kennedy returned to Australia without any concrete plans for his future.
He was even contemplating a possible return to Wales in the future, before the Brumbies expressed interest and eventually signed him.
The three years he spent playing for the Scarlets, Kennedy said, were incredibly formative, both in terms of his personal development and the growth of his skills.
"I think I grew both on and off the field," he said.
"Wales is a great place, it's obviously different to Australia but I was pretty lucky with the team I went to. We had some great coaches at the Scarlets in my first year.
"We had Wayne Pivac, who's now the Welsh coach, and Stephen Jones, who played number 10 for Wales for a long time and he's now the Wales attack coach. More recently, we had Brad Mooar, who's now doing stuff with the All Blacks, and in my last year Glenn Delaney, who's been around the block.
"To have those coaches was really good for my development I think. I got thrust into it really quickly, so it was a steep learning curve in my first year, but over the next couple of years I grew my game a lot more."
Kennedy's improvement was noticed by Brumbies head coach, Dan McKellar, who expressed his excitement about the qualities the hulking Goulburn native could bring to the team.
"Ed will be a great addition to our squad for this upcoming season," McKellar said.
"Ed's a valuable type of player, good at lineout, dynamic around the park with the ability to play both blindside flanker and at lock, and with his age and experience, he's physically mature and ready to go."
Having completed his two weeks of quarantine, Kennedy has already become acquainted with his teammates. Over the last week, the Brumbies began some preliminary training during which time he met roughly half of the squad.
Ahead of his first season, Kennedy is looking to keep his mind clear with just one goal: to work hard and earn a place in the team. Anything more than that, he said, would be a bonus.
"You don't want to get too far ahead of yourself, but to play one game would be a huge achievement," he said.
"I'll take things one game at a time, but I'll have to work hard in pre-season to earn that. The Brumbies have a lot of great players like Pete Samu and Rob Valetini in the back row doing really well, so they're two mainstays of the team.
"Hard work will hopefully get me an opportunity to play a game, and from there it's just about taking your opportunities."
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