Shaun Kenny-Dowall doesn’t remember the name. Just the words.
“We don’t think you are among the top 100 wingers going around so we are terminating you.”
They came from a Warriors official to a 15-year-old Kenny-Dowall who, at the time, was chasing his dream and making a three-hour round trip twice a week to train in Auckland with the club.
The day after the devastating snub, he quit school and started saving to move to Australia.
Now, remarkably, the player who finished second to Benji Marshall in the 2010 Golden Boot award and played 75 minutes with a broken jaw in the Sydney Roosters’ 2013 grand final triumph over Manly, runs out for NRL game No.250 when the Knights meet Wests Tigers on Friday night.
One can only wonder if a certain anonymous Warriors official will be watching.
Asked about the career milestone on the eve of the Tigers clash at McDonald Jones Stadium, Kenny-Dowall, 30, said: “There has been a lot of hard work and sacrifice and plenty of highs and lows as well. I feel a great sense of achievement having made it this far.
“I’ve been very blessed to play 250 games and I’m still going, so very happy.
“It’s been quite a journey and I’m really looking forward to getting out there on Friday night.”
After 11 seasons and 224 NRL games with the Roosters, Kenny-Dowall said the change of clubs last season has reinvigorated his career.
“It’s been a great move for myself. I really love this place,” he said. “It’s a different drive and a different environment. Newcastle is a building club but it’s a very proud club and I’ve worked out living here how much it means to the town and the fans and I’ll wear that jersey with pride every time I wear it.”
The last time these two sides met, the Knights winger was the hero, scoring the match-winning try in the final minute off a Jamie Buhrer cross-kick at Tamworth’s Scully Park.
The Tigers, spearheaded by veterans Marshall and Robbie Farah and the power of their props Ben Matulino and Russell Packer, will be looking for some payback as both sides attempt to keep their slim play-off hopes alive.
The ninth-placed Tigers, who blew a chance to beat Canterbury last week, are four points behind the eighth-placed Warriors with just five games remaining in the season.
The Knights, who missed their shot at three consecutive wins for the first time this year when they lost to North Queensland last week, will have Connor Watson back from injury.