Hull Kingston Rovers star Shaun Kenny-Dowall has had an illustrious career to this point.
Growing up on the North Island of New Zealand, he played his junior rugby league at East Coast Bays Barracudas and the Ngaruawahia Panthers. Kenny-Dowall was a product of New Zealand Warriors juniors system but after being told he was surplus to their requirements, he made the big move across the ditch as a teenager in 2004 where he was signed by the Sydney Roosters.
In 2006 he was selected to represent Junior Kiwis playing alongside the likes of Sonny Fai, Kevin Locke, Mose Masoe and Ben Matulino just to name a few.
The following year would see him make his first-grade debut at 19 years of age for the Sydney Roosters in the opening round of the 2007 NRL season against arch-rivals the South Sydney Rabbitohs. He would then go on to play 224 games for the Bondi based club, scoring 123 tries whilst making some pretty significant memories along the way, including one stand out.
“The grand final win with the Roosters in 2013. We had an absolutely stacked team, was blessed to play in such a talented team.” Kenny-Dowall told Everything Rugby League.
Every player will tell you representing your country is the highest pinnacle you can reach. It’s an honour that very few people get to experience throughout their lives. During his career, SKD has played 21 Test matches for the New Zealand Kiwis and also had the privilege of lining up for the New Zealand Māori team.
“Always a dream come true every time you put on the black and white jersey. You grow up watching the All Blacks and the Kiwis and that’s all you dreamt of as a kid.
“Representing your family and our people means a lot to me as well.”
After ten years at the Roosters, Kenny-Dowall joined the Newcastle Knights in 2017 where he would play 53 games before signing a two-year contract with Hull KR in England for the 2020/21 seasons.
One aspect of transitioning from the NRL to the Super League most people overlook is the difficulty for a player to move their family to the other side of the world where they will not only have to fit in at a new club but a new way of life as well.
Despite making the move at a less than desirable time of year, Kenny-Dowall has a great support team around him that made things more bearable.
“Coming in the middle of winter was hard and took some adjusting, but having my girlfriend and my dog with me made it a lot easier, as well as some great people at Hull KR.
“England is a different place in the summer. I’m really enjoying the vibe here at the moment and can’t wait for summer.”
Arguably the best part about playing for Hull KR or FC is experiencing the Hull Derby, something the 32-year-old got to do in front of a packed KCOM Stadium in February.
“What a spectacle!! The build-up the fans, the atmosphere. It really doesn’t get any bigger than the derby.
“I’d heard a lot about the rivalry as soon as I arrived and worked out how important these game are to the city of Hull and to the game of rugby league over here. It was everything i expected and more.
“Rovers fans were unbelievable very vocal and loud and can feel their passion. I can’t wait for derby two at Craven Park.”
At the end of 2021 Kenny-Dowall’s contract with Hull KR will be complete, however, what’s next is not his mind as the veteran’s focus is completely on playing the game he loves.
“I just want to take each day as it comes, saviour the moment, play some good rugby and get plenty more wins as a club and the rest will take care of itself.”