KNIGHTS chairman Brian McGuigan has declared he would have serious reservations about signing Shaun Kenny-Dowall after his release this week by Sydney Roosters.
Kenny-Dowall will face court next Wednesday after being arrested in a Sydney nightclub on May 21 and charged with cocaine possession. The Kiwi international was immediately stood down by the Roosters and has not played since.
Before his arrest, he was in negotiations with the Knights and was photographed dining in The Junction with Knights coach Nathan Brown.
The Knights were reported to have subsequently withdrawn a contract offer worth $1.2 million over four years, but there has been mounting speculation that they might still try to sign the 29-year-old, possibly before the June 30 mid-season deadline.
Knights chief executive Matt Gidley said on Wednesday the club “haven’t made any decision” about Kenny-Dowall.
“We haven’t spoken about it, to be honest,’’ Gidley said. “I don’t know where that’s at. I wasn’t even aware that the Roosters had released him until I was told about it [on Tuesday].
“We haven’t made any decision on Shaun Kenny-Dowall. I don’t even know what his position is in regards to his court case.’’
McGuigan made his position quite clear. Asked if he would be concerned about signing Kenny-Dowall, given his situation, he replied: “Of course. If that is the case, I would not be happy if his circumstances outside football are not attractive.
“We have been very, very careful to ensure that we do not have any of that sort of problem coming into our club.
“We’ve had it in the past and we don’t want it in the future.’’
There have been reports that Kenny-Dowall volunteered for a hair-follicle test, which verified that he had not used cocaine or any other illicit drugs in the previous 90 days.
Newcastle’s reputation has been tainted in past seasons by separate scandals involving club legend Andrew Johns, who admitted abusing recreational drugs throughout his celebrated career, and Danny Wicks, who was jailed for dealing cocaine and ecstasy.
The club has also attracted unwanted headlines for players testing positive to steroids, most recently playmaker Jarrod Mullen, who was sacked after incurring a four-year suspension this year.
McGuigan said Kenny-Dowall’s name had not been discussed at board level.
If Newcastle’s coaching staff were keen to sign him, it would be a matter the club’s football sub-committee would take to the board to endorse or reject.
“It may have been talked about at operational level, but if so, it’s news to me,’’ McGuigan said.
“I would be very, very, very careful about having anyone coming into our group who has any question over his ethics.’’
As well as Kenny-Dowall’s drug charges, he was involved in a much-publicised court case after his former partner, Jessica Peris, accused him of domestic violence.
He was found not guilty last year of all charges.
Kenny-Dowall, who has played in 224 NRL games for the Roosters, including their 2013 grand final triumph, has also been linked to English Super League clubs.
Meanwhile, the Knights confirmed on Thursday the signing of Roosters and Queensland back-rower Aidan Guerra to a three-year deal.
The 29-year-old, a veteran of 140 NRL games and 10 Origins, Guerra is Newcastle’s second signing for next season, joining North Queensland tyro Kalyn Ponga.
“Aidan will be a great addition to our young side,” Gidley said in a club statement.
“Aidan is a representative and premiership-winning player who will bring athleticism, experience and leadership to our team from a very successful career to date.”