It has been some season for Hull Kingston Rovers both off and on the field.
After a disastrous campaign in 2020 - finishing 11th above only the expelled Toronto Wolfpack - they finished in the playoffs for the first time since 2013, and gained quite a few admirers along the way.
The Rugby League that Rovers have endeavoured to play this season has Tony Smith written all over it - entertainment - and though form and injuries have often halted the Robins’ progress, one man has been an ever present to knit it all together.
That man is Captain Shaun Kenny-Dowall.
He will be the first to admit that his first season was below his expectations. His form was patchy, despite being a player who missed very little game time in the COVID-struck 2020 season.
He was one of the countless players involved in perhaps one of the best tries ever to grace their cross City rivals stadium, when Rovers threw the ball about for fun from their own half to score in the second period in February 2020.
He has been the heartbeat of Rovers’ play
This season, he has been immense. Handed the captaincy and moved over to the left side, his relationship with Ryan Hall and Kane Linnett on that side has made Rovers a formidable force going forward.
Playing 20 times this season, he is the heartbeat of Rovers’ side and as captain, he has led by example. Five tries and six assists this season have been vital to the Robins’ efforts, who bowed out this week against Table Toppers Catalans Dragons 28-10.
Kenny-Dowall has made 42 offloads this season, and it is that stat that epitomises the skipper’s efforts. Nearly 300 carries and almost 2,500 meters made in the league this season has seen him run the hard yards selflessly for his side.
Player of the season - and up against some pretty strong competition
For me, he has been one of the best players in Super League this year, let alone in the Rovers squad - and there have been plenty of challengers in red and white too, with Linnett, Hall, Mikey Lewis and Jordan Abdull all making strong cases for Player of the Season.
The lads over at the Red Robin Podcast - who have followed the team home and away this season - agree fully, with the Rovers based Podcast naming SKD as their Player of the Season.
Leader, captain, inspirational
“These 3 words represent SKD this year”, said Chris Johnson, joint host of the Red Robin Podcast alongside Joe Appleyard. “The former Kiwi international had his critics after his first season in East Hull, but 12 months later he has captained the Robins in a semi final defeat as the Robins defied the odds to make the last four of Super League 2021.
“With a more stable and classy left hand side this year, SKD produceds some fantastic displays with Ryan Hall and Kane Linnett either side of our Play of the Year.”
With five tries, including one in the semi final defeat, six assists and 2408 metres to his name, Kenny-Dowall has been a key cog in this rovers team and has been ever present since joining from Newcastle Knights.
“His line running, composure, passion and leadership shon this season and ended with him signing a one year extension which will take him to the end of 2022 and we can’t wait to see what the skipper has in store for us next season.
Well done Shaun Kenny-Dowall, you are the Red Robin Podcast player of the season.”
Whilst fully deserving the award, Kenny-Dowall will no doubt want to push on in 2022 and get Rovers even further up the table as well as a Challenge Cup run to ensure Rovers fans are still the ones holding the bragging rights over their Black and White rivals for many years to come.