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Kenny-Dowall cutting errors at Roosters

By Ben Horne 21/04/2010 08:07:29 PM Comments (0)

When Roosters coach Brian Smith named Shaun Kenny-Dowall in the centres in round one, opposition teams across the NRL would have seen that as a weakness to be exploited.

In past seasons playing on the wing, Kenny-Dowall had shown he could find his way to the try line and make a strong run, but with every touch he was only getting closer to another mistake.

In both 2008 and 2009 he made more than 30 errors, more than any other winger in the competition, and opposition teams knew he was good for a defensive lapse and a spilled ball every match.

His permanent move into the centres raised eye-brows, because in closer, he would potentially touch the ball more often and he would have tougher decisions to make in defence.

But instead of continuing his trend of inconsistency, the challenge of playing a more involved position has finally seen Kenny-Dowall realise his potential.

At 190cm and 101kg, he is a prototype centre - imposing, strong and blindingly fast.

He has made just four errors so far in 2010 and said he never doubted himself to get things right.

"I knew it was definitely a big part of my game that wasn't very good," Kenny-Dowall admitted ahead of Sunday's Anzac Day match-up with the Dragons' rep centre, Matt Cooper.

"Smithy has helped me out a lot and I've realised that to be consistent each week you've got to take those bits out of your game.

"I've been working on that hard over the off-season and I'm pretty happy where I am at the moment.

"It's a concentration thing. Recognising where you are and what stage of the game it is and how important it is to maintain possession.

"Recognising that and putting it into your game is a big part of turning it around."

Starting this season was all about consolidation for Kenny-Dowall, but remarkably it has quickly become about winning a place in the New Zealand side for the May Test against Australia.

His partnership with Sam Perrett on the right-hand side has been a highlight for the Roosters.

Perrett is a regular for New Zealand and Kenny-Dowall is hoping they can get picked as centre-wing partnership for the Melbourne Test.

Kiwi coach Stephen Kearney said the best players and not club combinations will get preference, but he confirmed Kenny-Dowall is back in contention after playing one Test against France in 2007.

"It's definitely something I aspire to do ... but we'll just have to see what the selectors do," he said.

"I'd love to test myself against the Australian team and the best players in the game.

"To be the best you've got to test yourself against the best so it's a challenge I'd love to have.

"Sam and I are pretty close off the field and it's good to have a friend outside me and we trust each other and make decisions together and we're building up a good combination."

Roosters captain Braith Anasta has backed his teammate, saying Kenny-Dowall has what it takes to play for New Zealand.

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