08 August 2023

Hull KR captain Shaun Kenny-Dowall hoping to top off career with Wembley win

08 August 2023

Shaun Kenny-Dowall hopes to put the “cherry on top” of his 17-year playing career by leading Hull KR to Challenge Cup final glory.

The Robins are into the showpiece at Wembley against Leigh on Saturday after Brad Schneider’s golden-point drop-goal secured an 11-10 victory over defending champions Wigan last month.

For Kenny-Dowall, this weekend’s trip takes on extra significance as it may be his last opportunity to get his hands on major silverware, having announced he will hang up his boots at the end of the season.

The Rovers captain would rank getting to hoist aloft the cup alongside his 2013 NRL Grand Final winners’ medal as he bids end 43 years of hurt for the red and white half of Hull.

Kenny-Dowall told the PA news agency: “We haven’t been in this position too many times, it’s a massive incentive to write our own piece of history and it would be a huge honour for me to lift the cup.

“It would be the cherry on top of what’s been a great career. There’s no more prestigious competition in rugby league than the Challenge Cup.

“I’ve only got probably two months left of my rugby league career, I’m very grateful and fortunate that one of those games is at Wembley. It’s a huge occasion.

“I get excited and nervous for these big games, this is what you strive to be a part of as a young kid and this time’s no different. I’m relishing the opportunity to walk out on the biggest stage.”

I've only got probably two months left of my rugby league career, I'm very grateful and fortunate that one of those games is at Wembley

Hull KR’s sole cup win was all the way back in 1980 while their only visit to the national football stadium this century ended with an ignominious 50-0 thrashing at the hands of Leeds eight years ago.

No players from that humbling defeat are still at the club, with Kenny-Dowall joining in 2020 from NRL side Newcastle Knights, having spent the bulk of his distinguished career at Sydney Roosters.

His time in Humberside has given the 35-year-old former New Zealand international a fresh appreciation for the game and he will remain with the club after retirement as he switches into a development coaching role.

He said: “Being here has been some of the most fulfilling of my career. Getting out of Australia and the NRL, you’re in a cycle of pressure and riding the NRL wave, but I’ve really enjoyed my time here.

“It gets me back to the enjoyment of why I started playing the game, it’s a different type of game that suits my style of play and I’ve really enjoyed it.

“It’s been a breath of fresh air for myself and my family. It’s definitely one time in my career that I’ll remember fondly and I’m absolutely delighted I can continue in the club’s progression.”

Leigh were widely tipped to struggle in their first season back in Super League but a raft of marquee arrivals and a rebrand – changing their name from the Centurions to the Leopards – has galvanised them.

They currently sit third, level on points with second-placed Wigan, and have done the double over Hull KR this season but Kenny-Dowall is unfazed at his side heading into the contest as underdogs.

He added: “Form goes out the window when you’re competing for silverware. If we rock up with the right mentality and do the things we know give us wins then we’ll give ourselves the best chance.

“We have to have that belief, if we didn’t we wouldn’t be in the position that we’re in. This is what we’ve earmarked and where we wanted to be at the start of the season.

“You have to embrace the moment and enjoy the occasion but we still have to focus on the job at hand. It’s no coincidence that we’re here in the final – hopefully we can make our own history.”

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox