Tigers spotlight turns on Rowe
Not everyone at the Wests Tigers is upset at losing one of the game's brightest young prospects.
The kid filling in for the kid who is Canberra-bound at the end of the season was wisely re-signed by the club last year until the end of 2015. But Kurtis Rowe has intentions on sticking around Concord for a lot longer than that, and he hopes he's shown enough over the past six weeks to prove it.
With James Tedesco announcing a three-year deal with the Raiders on Tuesday, the spotlight now turns onto the 20-year-old Rowe, who has spotted in admirably while Canberra's new signing recovers from an ankle injury suffered against Manly back in Round 5.
"I've felt very fortunate to have six games under my belt now. It's been a big step up from playing state cup at the start of the year and I'm real grateful that I have this opportunity. Hopefully I take it with both hands. I feel like I've been playing well," Rowe told NRL.com.
"It's everything I thought it'd be and more. A lot harder than what I usually played at. You have to be a lot smarter, you have to be a lot faster. But I've been really enjoying it. I've had a lot of support from the boys here. From that first game I played, I've just been eager to play more each week."
Along with James Gavet (hamstring), Dene Halatau (ankle) and Liam Fulton (back), Tedesco is in line to make the trip to Newcastle next Sunday. But Rowe hopes he has given coach Mick Potter enough of a headache to think twice about dropping him back to NSW Cup – and he'll have Tedesco to thank for doing so.
"Teddy's taught me a lot in the role playing fullback in the top grade. It's unfortunate for him with his injuries, but I knew when I had my shot that I just wanted to keep it there. I'll do my best to stay in the team," he said.
Tedesco's decision now means the club turns its attention to whether Rowe, who crossed for 38 tries in 45 games in the under-20s, is their long-term solution at fullback.
Another injured custodian, Tim Moltzen, is still sidelined indefinitely with a knee injured suffered during the pre-season. His contract also expires at the end of next season.
In Rowe's favour is his combination with halfback Luke Brooks. While Tedesco and Brooks showed some exciting on-field chemistry during the Auckland Nines, Rowe had actually spent more time alongside the Tigers' chief playmaker.
"I've played more games playing in the under-20s comp with Brooksy," Rowe said. "I felt a lot more comfortable making my debut playing off Brooksy because we had a good combination happening in the under-20s."
Rowe, who represented Australian Schoolboys in 2011 and the Junior Kiwis in 2013, said he had based his game on Kangaroos fullback Billy Slater.
"I want to be that type of fullback. Billy's the ultimate professional. I look at all the little things he does, like getting to the ball on the full. He's fit and fast," he said.