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AT THE end of last year, Matthew Kennedy started training with Greater Western Sydney's academy in Wagga Wagga once a week.

By the time he had started to play in a series of practice games about two months later, he was one of the most talked about prospects in recruiting circles. He was impressive, but where had he come from?

Kennedy had been off the radar. Since missing out on an under-15 representative side for being too small, the midfielder's parents wanted him to stay and play at local level in the Riverina region with his three older brothers.

He always hoped he would catch the attention of scouts, and his introduction to the Giants' academy this year helped that happen. Quickly he made their cut and then the NSW/ACT Rams' under-18 team, where he dominated at the start of the season.

Kennedy rocketed into top-10 calculations and has remained there for the year, despite missing about three months with a medial ligament injury in his knee.

He returned to star in his local club's premiership with more than 30 disposals and three goals in the Grand Final, and then put up excellent numbers at the NAB AFL Draft Combine to show that sometimes the best draft prospects only need a few opportunities to stake their claims. 

He's a midfielder who has real star quality. In just five games for the Rams in the TAC Cup, Kennedy did enough to show recruiters his skills. He averaged 23 disposals (about half contested), nearly five clearances and tackles, and more than a goal a game. Kennedy combines class with competitiveness.

His standout trick is his overhead marking, which gives him an advantage over other midfielders when he pushes forward. The 187cm and 88kg teenager knows his way around marking contests and isn't afraid to throw himself over a pack or into danger to take a grab.

Although more footballer than athlete, Kennedy proved at the combine that he has the capabilities to match it at the next level. He finished top-10 in the relative vertical jump and relative running vertical jump, was among the best performers in the goalkicking test, and he ran 14.12 in the beep test.

Playing senior football as a junior has given Kennedy an advantage, too, because he plays in a resilient and rugged way but offers a quality finish in everything he does. 

Kennedy's pace isn't at the level of others, so some clubs might wish he had more genuine leg speed. He ran a 3.13-second 20-metre sprint at the combine. But besides that there isn't much more you'd want in Kennedy's game. Perhaps the only question would be his limited amount of exposed form, having burst onto the scene early in the year before getting injured.

Luke Parker has emerged as a star of the competition as a ball-winning midfielder who excels in the air for the Sydney Swans, and Kennedy carries some of those traits. It will be Kennedy's marking ability that sets him apart from other on-ballers. 

Kennedy is worth a bid in the top 10. Whether a club does bid on him using a selection in that range remains to be seen, but it's where it should come. Either way, whenever the bid comes, the Giants will match it and Kennedy will become a GWS player. They used the trade period to accumulate enough picks (or points) to pay for Kennedy and Jacob Hopper if early bids come. 

Powerful, dangerous and damaging, Kennedy has a say on games. His midfield mix and then ability to shift forward, be a marking option and avenue to goal is unique in this draft. His sample size of games is perhaps smaller than anyone else's in the first round, but he's shown enough to be an early choice.