KNIGHTS legend Billy Peden has endorsed the club’s decision to sign controversial former Rooster Shaun Kenny-Dowall.
Kenny-Dowall accepted a two-and-a-half year deal withthe Knights on Tuesday, barely a week after pleading guilty to possessing 0.29 grams of cocaine.
The offence carried a 12-month good behaviour bond but he escaped conviction at Dowling Centre Court.
FIRST DAY: Shaun Kenny-Dowall training with Newcastle on Wednesday.
Speaking at a media event to promote this week’s match-day sponsor, NSW Mining, Peden –one of only five Knights to have played in Newcastle’s 1997 and 2001 grand final-winning teams – said Kenny-Dowall’s indiscretion might actually be “a positive”, because he would be able to counsel younger teammates about the ramifications of making poor decisions.
Knights chief executive Matt Gidley said signing the former New Zealand international was “certainly not a decision we made lightly”.
“We had a lot of discussion around it …in terms of the fans, it’s important they understand we did a lot of talking about this, we did a lot of reference checking and we’re looking forward to him being here now,’’ Gidley said.
“He’s obviously made a mistake. It’s a great lesson for our young players.
“He’s paid a huge price for that mistake, and he’s made it really clear that he wants to be in Newcastle, even prior to the incident happening.’’
Knights coach Nathan Brown was undecided which position would best suit the 29-year-old.
“Look, he’s an experienced player and when you’ve got a squad like ours …any player that comes into our squad withthat wealth of experience is going to bring something to the table right away,’’ Brown said.
“We wouldn’t have wanted to bring him to the club if he wasn’t going to contribute in that area.’’
AAP reports: Newcastle are in unfamiliar territory as they prepare to enter Sunday’s NRL “Spoon Bowl”against the Wests Tigers as favourites.
For the first time since their round-26, 2015, clash with Penrith, Newcastle will head into a game as the more fancied side with the bookies, according to the TAB.
In that match the Panthers ran out 30-12 winners, relegating the Knights to their first of back-to-back wooden spoons.
Ahead of their clash with the last-placed Wests Tigers, the Knights are $1.80 with Ivan Cleary’s side $2.00 outsiders.
The match could decide who finishes the year on the bottom of the ladder with the Tigers equal on eight points with the Knights (15th).
The Knights have held the wood over the joint venture in the recent past having won five of their last seven encounters.
The Knights are showing signs of improvements having pushed finals contenders Manly and St George Illawarra to within four points over the last fortnight.
“They’re a pretty dangerous team,” fullback Nathan Ross said of the Tigers.
“If you want to go out there and play touch football with them, they’ve added [Tui]Lolohea to their team, they’ve got Luke Brooks who’s shown he’s a quality player, Aaron Woods is a State of Origin player, James Tedesco, Dave Nofoaluma is probably one of the best play one, play two ball runners in the game. So they’ve got all the strike power there. It’s also the strong team they’ve fielded in the last month.”
The Knights are set to receive a boost with Jamie Buhrer to return from a long-term foot injury.
They lacked cooler heads as the Dragons overturned a 28-10 half-time deficit to beat them 32-28 on Sunday and Buhrer will add some much-needed experience.