CARLTON has rewarded much-improved midfielder Matt Kennedy for his career-best start to the season, locking away the tough inside ball-winner to a fresh three-year contract extension.
As flagged by AFL.com.au's Inside Trading last month, the Blues were keen to tie Kennedy – a free agent at season's end – to a multi-year contract to recognise the hardened midfielder for his impressive start to the campaign.
He subsequently signed a three-year deal on Wednesday, tying him to Ikon Park until at least the end of the 2025 campaign, telling AFL.com.au with a laugh that he was in "a bit of shock" when the club decided to begin contract talks recently.
"It's nice to get it done," Kennedy said.
"To be honest, I was actually in a little bit of shock when they mentioned they were looking to re-sign me. I was just looking to play consistent footy and hopefully get another one-year deal at the end of the year. That's how I thought I was tracking.
"I feel like it's a big confidence-booster for myself and from the club to back me in for three more years and to want to get it done early. I'm very grateful for the club to give me that opportunity."
Kennedy, who will play his 50th game for Carlton this weekend, has emerged as an important first-choice member of the side's midfield under new coach Michael Voss this season.
He's averaged 25.1 disposals, 11.4 contested possessions and 5.1 clearances per game, forming an impressive partnership with captain Patrick Cripps and new recruits Adam Cerra and George Hewett.
He was delisted and re-drafted as a rookie at the end of Carlton's 2020 season, subsequently making him a free agent for life, having managed only 42 games in his first four years with the Blues.
Previously, he had been drafted as a first-round selection to Greater Western Sydney as part of the club's Academy program before being traded to Carlton for pick No.28 at the end of the 2017 season.