New Zealand winger Shaun Kenny-Dowall says touring England with the Kiwis has provided a release from the pressure of the assault charges hanging over him.
Kenny-Dowall is on bail after pleading not guilty in August to several assault charges relating to alleged domestic violence.
The 27-year-old has been charged with 11 offences over the common assault and stalking of his former partner Jessica Peris.
He spent several weeks in hospital in July, admitted for stress-related mental illnesses, before returning to play for the Sydney Roosters in the NRL finals series.
The 15-Test veteran has given his first interview since the charges were laid, days out of from the second Test against England in London.
“It’s been a great release for me, being able to let my hair down and get away from all that off field stuff and do what I love,” Kenny-Dowall said.
“That’s my happy place out on the field and it made me realise that I cherish playing rugby league so much.”
Kenny-Dowall says admitting himself to hospital was the best thing he could have done and made him assess his priorities in life.
He says the constant presence of his parents and the extended visits of two sisters from New Zealand were invaluable.
“I had them around me and that is one thing I did learn … how important family is,” he said.
“To see the depths that they went to make sure I was alright was amazing and something I’ll never forget. There is a lot more to life than rugby league and your family will always be there no matter what.”
Kenny-Dowall says he is unsure what his future holds at the Roosters, who he first represented in 2007.
However, had no problem making himself available for the Kiwis tour.
“Representing your country is an honour and something you should never turn down.”