Glamour sporting couple split amid claims of assault and phone threats.

They were once one of sports hottest couples — a union between one of the NRL's most popular players and a stunning sprinter who has set her sights on running for Australia at the Rio Olympics.

But the apparent dream pairing of Kiwis league star Shaun Kenny-Dowall and athlete Jessica Peris — the daughter of Australia's first Aboriginal Olympic medallist, Nova Peris — has been shattered. Kenny-Dowall, 28, was yesterday charged with assaulting his former partner.

Sydney police charged him with 10 offences, including six counts of common assault and one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm. A police spokesman last night told the Herald on Sunday that Kenny-Dowall was also facing a charge of making threats using a mobile phone, stalking and destroying or damaging property. The charge of using a mobile phone to menace, harass or cause offence carries a maximum of three years' imprisonment.

It is alleged the offences took place between October 10 last year and June 24.


Kenny-Dowall was yesterday granted bail and is due to appear before Sydney's Waverley Local Court on Thursday. He could not be reached for comment. He is listed to start on the wing in an NRL clash against the Warriors in Sydney today.

The developments are a world away from a TV interview the glamour couple gave last August, when they described their relationship as loving and highly competitive.

"He's always been a very humble person but he's very sweet," Peris said.

Kenny-Dowall added: "She picks me up when I'm down and I do the same for her."

The pair have been one of the glitziest sporting couples on the Sydney social scene for the past two years. It is believed they met while holidaying in Bali. Before the split, they were living together in the coastal Sydney suburb of Coogee.

Friends of Kenny-Dowall yesterday told Sydney's Daily Telegraph the pair had been in ongoing legal disputes over money since he moved out of the home they shared about three weeks ago.

They said Peris had contacted his Sydney Roosters club complaining of alleged abuse and the club had offered to put her up in a hotel room.

Nova Peris, a Labor senator, yesterday told the Daily Telegraph: "This is a private family matter that is before the courts."


The Sydney Roosters wouldn't be drawn on the allegations but an NRL spokesman last night said: "There is no place for domestic violence in our game or society. We will monitor the case and take appropriate action when the full facts are clear."

Kenny-Dowall is one of Kiwi league's rags to riches stories. He was a junior at the Warriors before the club offloaded him - a club official told him he wasn't considered among the top 100 wings in New Zealand.

Determined to seek an NRL contract, he headed to Sydney with his father, John, and two mates, in 2004 chasing his dream while juggling two jobs. He was signed by the Sydney Roosters in 2007 and is now the club's 11th most-capped player and is third on its all-time try-scoring list.

In May he was one of the heroes of the Kiwis' 26-12 win over the Kangaroos in the Anzac Test in Brisbane, scoring a crucial try in the triumph.