SKD grateful for career lifeline
New Knights recruit Shaun Kenny-Dowall admits there were times in the past two months he feared his rugby league career was over.
Kenny-Dowall trained alongside his Newcastle teammates for the first time on Wednesday since being released from the Roosters in June on the back of a drug possession charge a month prior.
Preferring to not look back on the past, the 29-year-old believes extra responsibility at a club full of youth will force him to act as a leader.
"I realise I'm one of the older players at this club now and my behaviour has to fit that role as well," Kenny-Dowall said on Wednesday.
"You do have those thoughts running through your mind [about your career ending] but you just have to stay positive and keep training. I knew the direction I wanted to head in and that was still in the NRL.
"I think [the court case] has been dealt with now and I'm not proud of my actions but I am moving forward, and what better way than at the Knights."
With the Roosters flying high and a strong chance to feature deep into the finals in 2017, leaving the club he represented for over a decade in a disappointing fashion was not what the former Kiwi international had planned.
Newcastle were chasing Kenny-Dowall prior to the illicit drug charge – in which he avoided conviction – but withdrew their original offer pending the result of the investigation.
Despite hoping to stay at Bondi until the end of the season, in the end the call was out of veteran's hands.
"It didn't work out [that I could stay at the Roosters] so I had to look at all opportunities and this was the best one for me," Kenny-Dowall said.
"To leave on those circumstances [was] out of my control.
"For me it is a good chance to refresh my goals, it's fresh motivation and a challenge and I really want to progress as a person and as a player.
"I've been part of a lot of successful teams and I know what it takes to be successful so I offer that experience and hopefully I can work hard on and off the field to create a winning environment."
Despite a hamstring injury that is set to delay his club debut at Newcastle, early reports he could miss four to six weeks now appear wide of the mark.
He is all but certain to line up against his former club in Round 20 at Allianz Stadium.
"My [hamstring] injury is pretty good… it is not as bad as first thought," he said.
"I got quite a few [kilometres] out of the legs [at training today] so hopefully I'll be back in a couple of weeks.
"I have managed to maintain my fitness and keep up my conditioning with my sprint coach and my strength with lift performance as well so I am really happy with where I'm at.
"It is really unfortunate that I got this hamstring because I was feeling really good."
The arrival of the veteran outside back is a welcome addition for the Knights who average only 67 games of NRL experience in the outside backs.
"I think part of me coming here was the fact that I could play centre or wing and that I could rotate given the circumstances during that week," Kenny-Dowall said.
"I really want to earn the respect of the club, the community and work really hard to repay the faith.
"[Newcastle] is a beautiful town and they love their rugby league up here.
"I think the club is headed in the right direction and Browny (coach Nathan Brown) made it an easy decision for me to come here."