South Sydney are edging ever closer to a premiership as they prepare to meet their archrivals the Sydney Roosters at ANZ Stadium tonight.
Back in the side after a foot injury that threatened to cruel his season, Rabbitohs winger Richie Kennar is edging ever closer to something infinitely more important — maybe not in the eyes of Rabbitohs supporters — but certainly in his own eyes.
Once Souths’ season is over, possibly with a premiership to celebrate, Kennar will pack up and head overseas on a two-year Mormon mission.
He will be based in Scotland and Ireland, and will exist on a fraction of what he is being paid in the NRL. He hasn’t ruled out a return to rugby league, although history suggests players who take two years out of the game struggle to reclaim their former glories.
Kennar isn’t concerned, having talked about going on a Mormon mission with former teammate Young Tonumaipea since they were children. Tonumaipea left the Storm mid-season to spend his mission in Germany.
“We have always wanted to go as little kids,” Kennar said.
“This year feels like the right time to fulfil our goals. To leave what I have been working for since I was a little kid — this is something I am not forced to do, this is something I want to do.
“I am looking forward to putting other people before myself. I have always wanted to go. This year before the start of the season I made up my mind I was going.
“I just had to wait for my call. I guess our main purpose is to be able to help people who have hard trials and tribulations in life.
“I believe the message we have will strengthen their purpose in life and give them hope. That’s our main purpose, to give a helping hand and bring a smile into others’ lives.”
Kennar had one year left on his contract with the Rabbitohs but the club was supportive of his decision.
He will head overseas armed with a training program from Souths conditioner Paul Devlin but under no illusions about how difficult it will be to spend two years out of the game and return to the heights he has already attained.
“(Coach Anthony Seibold) had my back — he was very supportive,” Kennar said.
“He was happy for me. It doesn’t really matter what happens in my footy career. I know whatever happens, I am going on my mission.
“In saying that, two years is a long time.
“I might go on my mission and come back wanting to do something else.”
His mission will take a back seat tonight as Souths square off against the Roosters in a game that could dictate who finishes the season with the minor premiership.
The two clubs have enmity stretching back more than 100 years and the dislike has been gathering momentum this week, as players from both sides made no attempt to hide their disdain for each other.
The respective coaches joined in yesterday, acknowledging their was a deep-seated dislike between the teams.
Tonight’s game will have an extra edge given what is at stake. Souths are two points clear of Melbourne and the Roosters heading into tonight’s game. They have the opportunity to open up a four-point gap over their archrivals with a win, all but ending the Roosters’ hopes of a minor premiership.
Kennar is just glad to be back, having spent much of the season on the sidelines with a foot injury.
“I tore one of the ligaments in my foot,” he said.
“When I first did it, in my mind I thought I was out for the whole year. I knew in my mind it wasn’t right. It was tough.
“I wanted to play all the games this year.
“In saying that, everything happens for a reason and I am just happy to be back.”