When Shaun Kenny-Dowall arrived in Newcastle mid-2017, it was a move he had to make.
Not just for his football but for his life.
He needed a change and time out of the Sydney fish-bowl.
A break-up played out through the media and an off-field indiscretion had him in a bad head space.
With that came poor choices.
An incident at a nightclub saw Kenny-Dowall part ways with the Roosters in June and he signed with the Knights later that month.
It was the best decision he’s ever made.
“There were obviously some dark periods of my career that I had to learn and grow through,” Kenny-Dowall said.
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“A fresh start at the Knights has really enabled me to move past that and I think I’m a better person, more focused and more consistent rugby league player having come to the club and I’m very thankful for the club giving me the opportunity to start fresh.”
Aside from settling his home life, the winger has started planning for life after football.
In taking steps to ensure a successful transition into the regular world once his NRL journey is over, Kenny-Dowall has started studying in a space he’s experienced in.
He hopes through his own experiences, he can encourage and help others to make positive life choices.
“I’ve been trying to make the most of the education grants and been learning over the last couple of years,” he said.
“Health and wellness is something I’m passionate about and want to pursue after my career.
“I’ve started a few courses in that area.”
In making his own smart choices, Kenny-Dowall has embraced the role of senior leader.
Constantly working on his own personal development by reading self-help and spiritual books, he’s taken it upon himself to mentor many of the Club’s younger troops.
A vocal figure at training, Kenny-Dowall’s emergence as a leader is something the squad as a whole can feel.
“I really wanted to grow as a leader and that was one of the main reasons I came to the club,” he said.
“To be in that position now, we have a couple of leaders out at the moment. Aidan (Guerra) is a very vocal leader and Jamie Buhrer is in and out of first grade, so I’ve really taken hold of the opportunity to grow in that role and really getting close to Mitchell (Pearce) and Tim (Glasby).
“I’ve really learnt a lot from Tim. He’s a great role model as a leader to have at the club.”