Rejected by Warriors, one-way ticket to Australia and naming mix-up

Shaun Kenny-Dowall was 15 when he was cut by the Warriors.

He wasn't in their plans.

Too small, underdeveloped and not even rated in their top 100 prospects.

Despite making junior representative teams, as well as the three-hour round trip from Hamilton to Auckland to train with the Warriors' development squad three-times a week, the outside back was axed.

"That was my dream at the time, to play for the Warriors and the Kiwis and it all came crashing down," Kenny-Dowall told the Our Town Our Team podcast.

NEW PODCAST: FEATURING SKD


IF YOU'RE READING ON THE APP AND WANT TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST - CLICK HERE!

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes by clicking here!

"I was going there for a couple of months (to Warriors junior development training) and they sort of cut me from the squad.

"It was pretty tough. I was training for a couple of months and they were watching my development and the way I was training, my physical attributes and they sort of said; 'we don't think you're developed enough for your age in New Zealand compared to other players your size and age'. They said, 'we're going to let you go' and that was that.

"I was really disappointed. It was shattering at that age. In New Zealand there's only one league team and that's all I really wanted to do."

It was the rejection that prompted a massive decision.

It was life changing.


THE LITTLE GIRL WHO STOLE KP'S HEART AND A BIRTHDAY SHE'LL NEVER FORGET

KNIGHTS IN THE NEWS: KNIGHTS READY TO POUNCE ON MARQUEE SIGNING

Kenny-Dowall, his father John Dowall and two friends bought a one-way plane ticket and moved to Australia.

"It was a pretty bold move," Kenny-Dowall said.

"It's crazy but he's a pretty crazy dude my old man."

No contract. Little money. Only a dream and self-belief fueling the journey.

They hadn't even arranged accommodation.

It wasn't until they lobbed at the airport that they made their decision to go to Coogee.

Why? It was simple.


"There was a big accommodation board at the information center," he explained.

"I remember seeing Coogee backpackers had a free shuttle.

"We were pretty tight on money, so we jumped on the free shuttle.

"We were probably there for about two months."

Having signed up to play for the Clovelly Dolphins, Kenny-Dowall was living life on a budget and working hard.

Sleeping on bunk beds, using communal showers and on a diet of cheap burgers, eggs and baked beans, Kenny-Dowall was doing what he had to in order to survive.


From flipping burger at Hungry Jacks to an assistant as a jewellery maker, the New Zealand international was digging in to help his family save up to rent a house.

"It wasn't my parents intention to move over," he explained.

"My dad initially followed us over to make sure we were set up and he got to Sydney and realised how amazing the eastern suburbs were.

"He decided pretty early on he was going to go home and try and convince my mum and little sister to move over. They moved over a couple of months later.

"I was really fortunate. To have that close-knit bond of family and support really helped my case to push on to bigger things."

Playing park football with the Crocodiles, the junior club had an affiliation with the Sydney Roosters.

It was through this link that the door opened for Kenny-Dowall to join the Tricolours.


"We were allowed to go and train at the Roosters gym," he said.

"From 4pm we could go and train in their gym for free. We were 16 and we'd see all the first graders there in the gym.

"That's how I first started. We got associated with the SG Ball coaches."

But while he was on the Roosters' radar, Penrith also got a sniff.

In fact, he'd agreed to join the Panthers but a mistake with the name on his paperwork, coupled with compassion, saw him back out of the deal.

"I'd pretty much signed with Penrith. I think I did,"

"I stopped going to the Roosters gym, obviously, and they enquired to Clovelly, where's Shaun?

"I think there was a mix up with my name because I registered with my passport, it says Shaun Kenny but I was saying Shaun Kenny-Dowall. They got the names mixed up, so they never pursued me.

"It was a mix up and they said; 'we're really interested, we're going to offer you a contract' and because my parents had moved over and settled in Coogee, I ended up getting out (of the Panthers deal) on compassionate grounds."

Press play on the podcast above to hear the rest of his story!