NATHAN ROSS: Newcastle Knights recruit Shaun Kenny-Dowall takes off-season journey to Indian orphanage

GIVING: Less than two weeks after the NRL regular season wrapped up Newcastle Knights recruit Shaun Kenny-Dowall has used his time off to assist an orphanage in India. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

GIVING: Less than two weeks after the NRL regular season wrapped up Newcastle Knights recruit Shaun Kenny-Dowall has used his time off to assist an orphanage in India. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

A text message exchange with Knights teammate Shaun Kenny-Dowall took an unexpected, but pretty awesome, turn recently and it went a little something like this.

ME: Hey Skids.

SKD: Hey Rossy. What’s doing?

ME: Mate, I’d love you to come along to this charity event I’m helping out with next weekend. I’m on DJ duties (we’ll talk about that issue a little later) and it should be a good night.   

SKD: Would love to but I’m actually away, sorry mate.

ME: No worries, back to Sydney or going on holidays?

SKD: Not quite. Volunteering at an orphanage in India for a couple of weeks. 

ME: phone drop*

My surprise wasn’t so much about the journey SKD was about to embark on, but rather the very causal nature in which he revealed the information.

Just slipping it into conversation and not making a big deal out of it. 

Actually, most of the other boys in our side probably don’t know that he’s even gone. 

Actually, most of the other boys in our side probably don’t know that he’s even gone."

But that in itself just about sums him up. 

While many players, including yours truly, are using off-season breaks to relax, unwind and spend time with loved ones this 29-year-old is using his free time to help others in need and basically keeping it under wraps.   

Not beers, beaches and binge-watching catch-up television series, but rather this holiday agenda requires thought, care, compassion and above all effort. 

So less than a fortnight after the NRL regular rounds have finished for 2017, SKD will be lending a hand in a foreign land. 

Rebuilding shelters and looking after kids in one of the world’s busiest and crowded places.

There’s often been negative press about SKD but this is the flip side.

This is the real SKD – both true and kind of heart.

EFFORT: Knights recruit Shaun Kenny-Dowall runs onto McDonald Jones Stadium on old boys' day last month. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

EFFORT: Knights recruit Shaun Kenny-Dowall runs onto McDonald Jones Stadium on old boys' day last month. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

It also reveals much about his character, which the Knights squad were able to get a glimpse of during the latter parts of this most recent campaign.  

Since he’s been at the Knights his impact on the club has been huge, both with his on-field perfomances and the way he carries himself off the field. 

By the way, anyone interested in hearing some tunes (I’m getting my set list together as we speak) for a good cause come along to the Cambridge Hotel on Saturday week (September 23) from 10pm. I’ll be the guest DJ helping to raise funds for mental health organisation the Black Dog Institute.

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