ANENDRA SINGH
It will take something special to fill the boots of Paul Henare and Paora Winitana.
Jusk ask former North Harbour Heat player Jarrod Kenny because he is the man to do the job for the fresh-looking 0800 Easy LPG Hawks when the 2009 NBL season tips off early next year.
``It's going to be a big challenge because they are exceptional players,' said the 23-year-old point guard when SportToday spoke to him this week.
Kenny was helping his father, Danny, an employee of Works Infrastructure, with some waterblasting work along State Highway 5 in Hawke's Bay on Monday.
``I was intending to train with Paulie and Paora,' he said of the former Hawks who will play for new Canterbury franchise the Christchurch Cougars next season.
The Australian National Basketball League pair switched allegiances after it was revealed at the eleventh hour the Hawks franchise was in the financial doldrums and faced a self-imposed exile from the NBL for at least next season to find its feet again.
Henare, the New Zealand Breakers captain, and Winitana, of the Adelaide 36ers, had committed to the Hawks but discovered they were to take pay cuts across the board like everyone else.
They expressed regret but put the future of their families before their longtime loyalty to the region and team, saying the loss of income was too heavy. They pledged to return when the economic climate improves.
For Kenny, nothing has changed despite the Bay pair moving on.
``Coach Shawn Dennis was another reason I was keen to move to the Bay to become a better player,' he said of the assistant coach the ANBL Sydney Sydney Spirits side.
Kenny played for the Heats for four seasons and also two preseason matches for the Breakers two years ago.
His physiotherapy degree at the Auckland University of Technology meant basketball was put on the backburner for two years.
He'll graduate in 10 weeks.
The 1.87m tall player hopes to bring youth, energy and loads of passion to help the Hawks clinch the championship.
Not feeling insecure about the recent financial ruckus, Kenny is content with stalwart Jeremy Bayliss and new franchise boss and ex-Hawks coach Curtis Wooten to take care off-court business while he attends to on-court issues.
A product of the national age-group Koru Tour, Kenny also represented the New Zealand Universities team at the World Uni Games in basketball in Bangkok last year.
He was also a Tall Black trialist in 2006 and this year but failed to make the cut after coaches Tab Baldwin and Nenad Vucinic said he needed to improve his shooting stats.
``I'm a lot sharper now and hoping to be in the next trials,' Kenny said while enjoying the Christmas holidays with his family in Auckland.