Hull KR captain Shaun Kenny-Dowall will retire at the end of the season, and has admitted that he’s no different to anyone else in wanting to step out at Wembley, but he won’t be thinking of himself getting the perfect ending come Sunday’s Challenge Cup semi-final against Wigan Warriors.
The Robins captain announced back in May that 2023 would be his last year in a playing capacity. He will hang up the boots and take up a coaching role in the development setup at Craven Park, extending a three-year stay at the club.
And with KR now just 80 minutes away from a final appearance at the national stadium next month, Brisbane-born Kenny-Dowall opened up on the ‘dream’ that’s ‘no different’ to anyone else’s, even given the context.
Shaun Kenny-Dowall: “This game is no different for me”
Speaking on The Sportsman’s ‘The Last Tackle’ show, the veteran said: “It’s on every players agenda, that’s got to be the goal, to play in these big games. This game is no different for me, that’s our whole focus as a club and as a team, to be competing in the big games. We’re fortunate enough to be in this position.
“Listening to the local boys talk about what it means to play at Wembley, what a prestigious stadium it is and what it means to the country, you really buy into that.
“You come to understand the magnitude of the competition we’re playing in, and it’s not something that we take for granted. Us coming over here, we buy into it.
“It’s a big game, you watch from afar how much it means with the big crowd and walking out at Wembley is every kid’s dream, it’s the same for me.”
Hull KR looking to put last year’s heartbreak behind them
Australian Kenny-Dowall moved to England and Craven Park ahead of the 2020 campaign. In that, he scored a try on his first ever Challenge Cup appearance as the Robins beat Leigh, the last game before the COVID-19 Pandemic put a lengthy delay on the remainder of that year’s action.
The next round of the cup in 2020 wasn’t played until September, six months later, when Kenny-Dowall and co. got knocked out by Leeds Rhinos at the quarter-final stage.
2021 then saw a gut-wrenching 33-32 defeat to Castleford Tigers to exit the competition before the last eight, but last year was the worst taste of defeat in the competition so far for Kenny-Dowall during his time on these shores. KR reached the semi-final, only to be beaten comfortably by Huddersfield Giants.
The Robins’ skipper spoke about using that loss as fire this time around. He added: “There’s definitely an internal motivation to go one better.
“I think we’ve learned a lot of lessons from last year and we’re fortunate to have the opportunity now to take it that one step further, so I know the boys will be really focused on just going about their business this week.
“We can attack this week with a real positive attitude, we’ll have a good week on the training field and come here [Headingley] looking to do a job.”
Kenny-Dowall on semi-final opponents Wigan Warriors
A former NRL Grand Final winner, ‘SKD’ represented New Zealand on the international stage, and has also played against England for the Combined Nations All Stars.
Sunday will see he and his teammates face Wigan for the third time this season, and so far it’s level at 1-1 on the scoreboard after two edge-of-the-seat contests at Craven Park. It adds extra spice to a game that hardly needs it, and there’ll be plenty of fans around the world keen to know how to use a VPN on Roku to ensure they catch not just this but many other great sporting occasions.
Kenny-Dowall ran in a first-ever Super League hat-trick in the opening round of the season as the Robins ran out 27-18 winners. In Round 13 though, on their return to the Robins’ home, Matt Peet’s Wigan inched out a victory in golden point. Having levelled things up to 22-22 after the hooter had gone, Liam Farrell ran in the winning try to seal a 26-22 success.
The Rovers captain said: “You never know what to expect [against Wigan], obviously they’re a quality opposition, but we take great confidence out of the way we’ve performed against them already this year.
“We’ve had one great win and then one really close golden point thriller. We’re looking forward to another fierce battle this weekend, we know their strengths and what they bring every time they take to the park.
“We’re just really looking forward to getting out there on Sunday.”