SEAN KENNEDY has already landed one big fish this year and now the 22-year-old Edinburgh Rugby scrum half is hoping for another when the draw is made tomorrow for the Heineken European Cup.
It was on a holiday to Mexico last month that Kennedy, who yesterday graduated from development to senior contract on a two-year deal, tried his hand at deep-sea fishing.
“I’d never done anything other than cast a line when I lived in Limerick as a youngster, but the chance to go an hour out into the Caribbean Sea with friends was too good to miss,” the Scotsman said.
“I caught a 150lb Sailfish and by the time a half-hour struggle was over, I felt I had done much of my pre-season rugby training. Sailfish are big and can be quite dangerous.”
In fact, Sailfish are known not only for their size but incredible speed, as it is estimated they could swim the equivalent of an Olympic Pool in under five seconds.
Kennedy added: “My catch was like a swordfish with a big bill. I had someone on my shoulder as I reeled the fish in.”
When it comes to the Heineken Cup, the biggest catch would undoubtedly be reigning champions Toulon – and that would suit Kennedy just fine.
“I wouldn’t mind going over to Toulon. That would be all right, but I really just want to play and I don’t mind who against [because] I think we have a good enough team to go anywhere and challenge.”
In fact, Kennedy has already been in at the deep end so far as French rugby is concerned, having made his European debut from off the bench when starting the season on loan with Glasgow.
On that occasion opponents were Castres Olympique, who have just claimed a shock French Championship triumph, despite having only the ninth biggest budget of the Top 14 clubs.
Kennedy said: “That outing at Castres only amounted to 20 minutes, but it has whetted my appetite for more opportunities at this level.
“Starting a Heineken Cup match for Edinburgh is definitely a goal for the season ahead, but at the same time I am aware that Greg Laidlaw is starting for Scotland in my position and is a great leader with Chris Leck, Alex Black and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne all eager for opportunities.
“Competition can only be good, though, and I won’t be holding back. I am going to go for that jersey.”
Kennedy could scarcely have made a better impression on returning to Edinburgh in March, as his debut coincided with a win over Ulster to add to success against those same opponents in Glasgow colours.
A victory over Dragons, when he was a replacement, also followed, while Kennedy shared in the Scotland ‘A’ team’s memorable win over England Saxons at Newcastle in February just after he was part of the pre-Six Nations training squad in St Andrews in January.
“Beating England Saxons away was good, but my highlight had to be an invitation to train with the Scotland squad,” he revealed. “Playing for Scotland is what every Scottish player aims for and I am no different.”
That could even come sooner rather than later, with Kennedy acknowledging he has been put on standby for the current Castle Lager quadrangular tournament in South Africa should injuries occur.
“Even though you know there are brilliant scrum halves in Scotland, you are disappointed if you don’t get selected having been in a squad before the Six Nations,” explained Kennedy, before adding: “At the same time, I am more than happy to be here and signing a contract with Edinburgh. That, however, is just the start so far as I am concerned and now I need to fight and try to get game time.”
In the immediate term, Kenneday’s focus is on pre-season with Edinburgh, which will initially take the form of fitness work – with a twist.
“Our first block of pre-season work is more about conditioning and is martial-arts based,” he said. “It is to get our aggression back up with a combination of knowing how to fall, taking guys down and wrestling – with some boxing thrown in. After that will come rugby.”