Written by Callum Walker
Photo by Photosport
Shaun Kenny-Dowall has done and seen it all; he made his NRL debut in 2007 and went on to play 13 seasons in the southern hemisphere’s most prestigious league. It is an achievement which the three-quarter is honoured to have been a part of.
“I was very fortunate to play in the NRL for such a long time,” Kenny-Dowall stated.
“It was always a goal of mine growing up in New Zealand to play in the NRL, and to play over 250 games is massive.
“It’s such a hard competition and so hard to be consistent and stay on the top of your game for such a long time.
“I’m very proud to have played in that competition for as long as I did.”
Kenny-Dowall was, of course, part of the Sydney Roosters side that won the Grand Final in 2013 and the joy in his voice was obvious when reminiscing about the moment.
“Winning a Grand Final is why you play the game. Many players go through their whole careers and don’t win one.
“I lost one earlier in my career, but to come back and win one three years later was a dream come true.
“I grew up watching each Grand Final and you wish you could experience the same; it is such an amazing feeling and so many things have to go right and we worked really hard that year.
“I was really fortunate to be a part of such a great team and to get the job done on the night was special, I’ll never forget it.”
It was perhaps a surprise, therefore, to see the centre exit the NRL at the end of 2019 and move to Super League. But, having weighed up his many options, the pull of Tony Smith at Hull KR was too great for Kenny-Dowall to ignore.
“My contract at Newcastle was coming up and I was speaking to a few clubs.
“I had a few conversations with Tony Smith and he was a big part of why I signed for KR – he sold the dream of where the club was headed and he wanted to take it to be one of the main clubs and have sustained success.
“I wanted to be a part of that and really try and help the shift to take KR up the ladder.
“It was disappointing last year, but we’ve grown through that and we’ve assembled a really good squad that hopefully can start that journey up the table.
“He’s such a great coach and probably a good mate of mine now; I love playing for him and I love playing for KR. It’s such a great club.”
The Robins won just three games in 2020, and, with the worst points scored and against in Super League, it’s quite obvious where KR’s troubles lie and where they need to improve.
“Our main focus is to tidy up a few areas from last year and acknowledge the different areas where we need to be better.
“Our focus has been defence because we leaked way too much points last season, so we’ve trying to strengthen up our middle.
“The boys have been working really hard and we are confident at where we are at and can’t wait for the games to come around.”
“There are no limits to the success we can achieve this year. We’re all working towards the same goals.”
On an individual level, for 33-year-old Kenny-Dowall, it’s a case of helping Rovers accrue more wins in 2021 than in 2020. And, the veteran is also optimistic of doing that in front of the KR faithful.
“I want to be a lot more consistent this year and win a few more games for the club.
“Hopefully we can do that in front a packed-out, screaming Craven Park – that would be awesome.”
Kenny-Dowall will be in action for Hull KR as they take on Catalans Dragons in round one of Super League in late March.