Raiders recruit ‘biggest in O&M’

James KennedyWODONGA Raiders will unleash one of the ­biggest players in Ovens and Murray history against Lavington today.

The Raiders have signed James Kennedy, a 208-centimetre, 130-kilogram giant who almost earnt a spot on ­Hawthorn’s rookie-list before the start of last season.

The elite junior ­basketballer, who earned national honours in that sport alongside the likes of Scott Pendlebury and Patrick Mills, is friends with the Raiders’ Montmorency quartet and has been convinced to make the trek up the highway for the rest of the season.

Kennedy, 24, admitted he didn’t know what to expect against the ­Panthers today.

“Obviously it’s all happened pretty quickly and so I don’t know too much about the opposition,” Kennedy said.

“I know to expect a hard, physical contest each week.

“I was going to give footy a miss this year but I had a bit of a think about it and thought why not.

“We’ll see how I go.”

Kennedy, who spent a year playing college basketball in the US, has barely played football since suffering an ankle injury midway through 2011.

But he said he was “very keen” to stick the year out at Birallee Park.

It’s a major boost for the Raiders.

The Raiders have spent the early part of this season reeling from the recent departures of big men Scott Meyer, Dean Heta and Eddie Prato.

Coach Ken Stevenson admits the club could hardly believe its luck when Kennedy agreed to join.

“He’s good mates with Dean Giles and it all sort of fell into place from there,” Stevenson said.

“We weren’t really keen to recruit anybody else for the year but the bottom line is we needed a ruckman.

“We haven’t got a local one.

“Liam Hickey is doing really well but he’s only just turned 16.

“He needs a hand and James wants to help out.

“We’re rapt, obviously.”

Ex-Wangaratta beanpole Peder Whelan was the last Ovens and Murray player to rival Kennedy for height but had a significantly smaller frame.

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