Richie Kennar has revealed why he was forced to cancel a Mormon mission last year as he outlined his new mission as a member of the Brisbane Broncos top 30 squad.
The 24-year-old, who has secured a one-year deal at the Broncos but has been playing with Wynnum Manly Seagulls in the Intrust Super Cup, will line up on the wing with the XXXX Queensland Residents against New South Wales at Dolphin Stadium on Sunday.
Last year he was slated to go on a Mormon mission to Scotland and Ireland, but due to visa issues had to cancel.
Kennar's former South Sydney Rabbitohs coach Anthony Seibold threw Kennar a lifeline and he is now determined to break into the Broncos side and secure a new deal.
Kennar explained why the mission didn’t eventuate.
"Originally I was meant to leave in September and Anthony (Seibold) was supportive, but the Rabbitohs management wrote a letter to my church and asked if I could leave the week after the grand final because I was in contention for a spot and the boys were going good," Kennar said.
"My visa said I had to be in the United Kingdom within four weeks and I just missed the cut. To reapply is a long process and I am not getting any younger, so I just decided to continue playing footy.
"My faith still comes before anything else. It is not as though I am not a Christian anymore. I still believe in God and the Lord Jesus Christ, but it means I will continue playing footy instead of going on the mission.
"Things happen in life. It will definitely be a decision I will regret, because I always wanted to serve on a mission, but that is just the way things are."
Kennar said missionaries had to be aged under 26 so he would not get to fulfil a mission, but he still enjoyed hearing the experiences of those who were on them.
"I am close to (former Melbourne Storm winger) Young Tonumaipea and he is on a mission now in Germany," Kennar said.
"I still keep in touch with him each Monday, which is the only time they are allowed to contact their families. He is loving it and knows how to speak German now, which is pretty cool."
Kennar got married a fortnight ago and plans to have a young family.
"I am turning 25 this year and I got married two or three weeks ago (to Hena) in Sydney. Starting a family is my next goal," Kennar said.
After leaving Souths without a deal, Kennar rang Seibold looking for a lifeline; he scored seven tries in eight NRL games for Souths last year and his former mentor recognised his finishing ability.
"I gave Anthony a buzz after he got the job at Brisbane... we have a really close relationship, but he said there were no guarantees," Kennar said.
"He said he could offer me a train and trial (with the Broncos) after I signed with Wynnum if I worked hard.
"Then when Jordan Kahu left for the (North Queensland) Cowboys, it opened a door for me and I just had to put my head down and play well in the trials.
"I just feel blessed that Anthony and the Broncos had faith in me and gave me a contract.
"I have a one-year deal with the Broncos and the pressure is on but I am not looking too far ahead. I just need to keep working hard and the contracts will take care of themselves.
"I have a new mission - to do well for Brisbane and provide for my family."
Kennar missed the first slab of pre-season, but put in the big ones in a three-week training blitz at Wynnum.
"My first week at Wynnum I was 112kg and way overweight and I have got down to 107... Anthony still wants me down towards that 102kg mark," Kennar said.
"Hopefully an opportunity does come in the top side."
Running out with the XXXX Queensland Residents is not an opportunity Kennar takes lightly and he intends to embrace the week-long camp on the Gold Coast ahead of game day.
"It is a big privilege to be here and I am looking forward to getting a good bond with the coaches and players," Kennar said.
"It will be a big game on Sunday."