Robins’ skipper demands improved defence

Hull KR captain Shaun Kenny-Dowall says he’s excited about what Ryan Hall can add to the team’s attack, particularly after his three-try performance on Saturday, but he accepts that an all-round effort to improve defensively is urgently required.

England and former Leeds ace Hall (pictured), back in England after a two-year stint with Sydney Roosters, made a flying start to his Rovers career with a hat-trick against Catalans in Saturday’s Super League opener.

It helped Tony Smith’s side fight back from 28-4 down to draw level, only to lose to a golden-point field-goal.

“Ryan is a great addition,” said former New Zealand international centre Kenny-Dowall of his fellow 33-year-old, who won six Grand Finals and two Challenge Cups with Leeds.

“He’s a very big human, a quality payer who is a welcome addition and will be good for us. Hopefully he and I can form a solid partnership.”

Ex-Sydney Roosters star Kenny-Dowall, going into his second season in Super League after moving from Newcastle Knights, knows Rovers must begin games far better.

They also handed Castleford an 18-point start in their pre-season clash.

“We have to break the trend of struggling in the first half of matches,” he added.

“We need to complete the early sets and build our performance. Sometimes we’ve been guilty of throwing the ball around too much.

“It’s great that we have the players to do that, because it can open sides up, but there’s a right time for it, and we have to remember that.

“We know we have to work on our defence and improve. We have some big boys in the side who will help with it.”

Rovers face St Helens at the Totally Wicked Stadium on Thursday, and Kenny-Dowall reckons they should relish the challenge of facing the defending champions.

“We’ll work hard to prepare, work hard to get our start right and work hard to play to our strengths,” he added.

“Last season was disappointing, but this is a new campaign and we have more experience. I’m confident we can make strides.”

Kenny-Dowall is keen to improve his own contribution and explained: “I feel a lot fitter than when I first got here.

“I’ve shred a few kilos because of the overall speed of the game. It’s getting faster every year so you’ve got to be in peak physical condition to last the whole season.”

The above content is also available in the regular weekly edition of League Express, on newsstands every Monday in the UK and as a digital download. Click here for more details.