Sydney's Josh Kennedy retires: What does this mean for the Bloods?

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Sydney's Josh Kennedy has announced his retirement, following another injury setback that's kept him from the senior side since round 10.

Telling his teammates on Tuesday morning, Kennedy announced his 16-year career would come to an end at the end of the season, playing 290 games (277 for Sydney, 13 for Hawthorn).

Battling in the VFL, Kennedy hasn't been able to crack into the senior side following a hamstring injury against Carlton earlier in the year and the form of some younger players, with Chad Warner and Callum Mills taking on more responsibility.

Kennedy took the opportunity to show his appreciation to the club and how thankful he is for his time at Sydney.

"It is with a heavy heart but a whole lot of gratitude that I make this announcement today," Kennedy said.

"I want to take the opportunity to thank everyone at the club. The overarching sentiment I want to leave is one of gratitude - I am grateful to Alistair Clarkson and Hawthorn for the opportunity, and to the Sydney Swans for believing in me.

"I'm eternally grateful to the football club, the players past and present, the support staff that make the club great from the board level down, and of course all the fans and supporters over the journey who have supported me and the team and made me feel very special to belong to such a great club."

A product of a long lineage at the Hawks following on from his father, John Kennedy jnr, and grandfather John Kennedy snr, Kennedy was drafted with pick 40 to the club under the father-son rule in 2006.

Coming across from Hawthorn at the end of 2009, the Swans were ecstatic they were able to pry the father-son out of Waverley Park, fitting the bill as a tough inside midfielder.

Joining West Coast's fellow Josh Kennedy in hanging up the boots, the 34-year-old will go down as arguably one of the greatest Sydney players in its history, joining the likes of Adam Goodes, Ryan O'Keefe, Michael O'Loughlin and Jarrad McVeigh.

A key part of the 2012 premiership success, as well as the 2014 and 2016 commiserations, Kennedy often lifted to the moment, performing on the biggest stage consistently.

In all three Grand Finals, the contested bull averaged 30 touches and two goals, almost dragging his side over the line against the Western Bulldogs in the most recent play off.

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Coach John Longmire alluded to the significance of Kennedy throughout his time at the Swans.

"On behalf of the footy club I just want to thank Josh for what he has contributed to this place over the past 13 years. He's been a significant contributor for such a long period of time.

"One of the things we said to the players was you probably don't understand how much of a champion has been running beside you at training, preparing in the gym and sitting next to you in meetings, because he's so humble. That's just who he is.

"But it really hits you when you see how many times he has finished in the top three in our Club Champion ... he has sat comfortably among some of the all-time greats throughout his career. He's been a great player, a great confidant, a great friend and a terrific captain."

Who will replace Josh P. Kennedy?

Over the past couple of seasons, Longmire has trialed Kennedy in different positions, with the former Hawk taking his place along the half back at times.

Asking players like Warner and Mills to take on more of the responsibility in the midfield, Longmire entrusted his young, talented players to shoulder what Kennedy had previously for many years.

Mills - the Swans skipper - has been in career best form, becoming one of the best two-way players in the competition, allowing teammates to travel forward and hit the scoreboard.

Warner, 20, has emerged as the league's brightest footballer, showcasing his ability to get from inside the contests to the outside relatively quickly, similar to Kennedy.

James Rowbottom has asserted himself as a regular under Longmire in the midfield, with the 21-year-old finding his feet as a tough on-baller.

Tom Papley has also been tested through the middle as has Isaac Heeney, providing different looks for Sydney.

Aside from the younger brigade coming through, long-standing teammate of Kennedy, Luke Parker, has continued his stellar career in the red-and-white, being a consistent contributor for the Swans.

Josh P. Kennedy's career highlights

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  • 2012 Premiership player
  • Three-time All-Australian
  • Three-time Bob Skilton Medal
  • Sydney captain 2017-2020
  • 2x Brett Kirk Medal 2012, 2015
  • Sydney Swans Best Clubman 2020
  • 4x Swans Players’ Player (2012, 2015, 2016, 2017)
  • 4x Swans Best in Finals (2010, 2013, 2015, 2016)
  • Gary Ayres Award 2016
  • Third most handballs ever (4203) behind Scott Pendlebury and Joel Selwood 
  • 20th in all-time most disposals (7372)
  • 8th in all-time tackles (1488)
  • Second in all-time clearances (1810) behind only Joel Selwood
  • Currently leading all-time contested possessions (4006), jumping Gary Ablett Jnr (4000)
Author(s)
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Aidan Cellini is a content producer for The Sporting News Australia.
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