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Milestone man grateful for lifeline when career was on SKiDs

Understandably, his career will always be closely connected to the Sydney Roosters, but Shaun Kenny-Dowall also wants to be remembered for making a mark in Newcastle.

Kenny-Dowall played 224 games in more than 10 seasons at Bondi Junction, won a premiership with the Roosters in 2013, and is their second all-time leading try-scorer behind Anthony Minichiello.

But the 31-year-old winger, who will make his 50th appearance for Newcastle in their crucial clash with Parramatta at Bankwest Stadium on Saturday, hopes his time as a Knight is not disregarded as he credits the club for saving his career.

The Roosters parted ways with the Kiwi international in May 2017 after he was charged with possession of cocaine, but after pleading guilty in Downing Centre Local Court and having no conviction recorded, the Knights signed him to a contract that expires at the end of this season.

How far he has come since then was acknowledged earlier this year when his teammates voted him in as one of four senior players to assist club captain Mitchell Pearce, his long-time friend and former Roosters teammate.

"It’s been a breath of fresh air coming up here, and I really do owe the club a lot to get my life back on track," Kenny-Dowall said.

"I really feel like I’ve grown as a person and a leader, and even a rugby league player, so like I said, I owe them a lot and I’m very grateful for that opportunity.

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"There’s lots of people that have added to that value of building this club. We’re still not where we want to be so it’s a work in progress and I think we have come a long way.

"We’re very proud of this club and we’re very proud of the culture and what we stand for as a club, and it’s always great to be a part of it."

Kenny-Dowall has not missed a game since his Knights debut in July 2017, against the Roosters as fate would have it, and if he signs a new deal with Newcastle, he should reach 300 appearances late next season.

"I’ve been pretty fortunate, touch wood, and haven’t had and injuries in my time here and I’ve taken part in every game I could have," he said.

"I think I came here with a hamstring injury and haven’t had one since, so it’s been a good run."

He would not shed any light on negotiations about his future, but Kenny-Dowall wants to become a triple centurion before he hangs up his boots or makes any plans to play in England.

"I just want to focus on getting our season back on track first, that’s probably the main priority and that’s a week to week basis thing at the moment," he said.

"I just want to concentrate on my job on the footy field and try to finish this season strong.

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"Anyone that plays 300 games, it’d be a huge honour to be a part of that prestigious club and it’s well within my sights and definitely a possibility. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about it, and it would be a great honour to be a part of that club."

Though the Knights have disappeared from the finals radar for all but their most ardent supporters, they have won 11 of their past 13 against Parramatta and Kenny-Dowall is confident they can win again on Saturday and stay in the race.

Newcastle have lost five in a row but faced the same circumstances before playing the Eels at McDonald Jones Stadium earlier in the season, and won 28-14 to spark a six-game winning streak.

"We play really well against Parramatta, and we seemed to turn our season around against them last time and I think we can take a lot of confidence from that, so it would be really nice to celebrate 50 with a win," Kenny-Dowall said.

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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