Cowboy Lowe tipped for rep future
Cowboys second-rower Ethan Lowe is about as terse as football players come, but assistant coach Jason Demetriou has all but broken into song and dance when asked to describe his young charge.
Both men's paths to the NRL started with the Intrust Super Cup's Northern Pride, where Demetriou took the side to back-to-back minor premierships in 2013 and '14.
Lowe made his Pride debut in 2012 and instantly won over fans, named Intrust Super Cup Rookie of the Year.
When Demetriou took the reins in 2013 he saw a bare-bones youngster who was one of the most diligent students he had come across in his brief coaching tenure, and knew big things were in store.
"In 2013 he was still a bit raw but he had a lot of work ethic," Demetriou told NRL.com.
"He's always a guy I thought had the potential to kick on the way he has and not only play NRL but have a career in the NRL, and they are two very different things.
"There are definitely [representative] gigs down the track for Lowey. I think he has that potential.
"Sometimes young guys get a bit ahead of themselves worrying about money and rep footy before they've earned the right. Lowey is a pretty level-headed guy and if he just keeps working hard those things will come."
Lowe was thrown into the fire in Round 11 last season, starting in place of Gavin Cooper who dislocated his hip in the Cowboys' commanding win over the Roosters a week prior.
The Goondiwindi product won the respect of coach Paul Green in an otherwise dismal day for the club, with a team-best performance including a try, 37 tackles (two misses), five tackle busts and a line break in 80 minutes.
Lowe was named each game for the next five weeks, but the tackling machine struggled to pace himself during stints and would occasionally find himself exposed defensively.
"His work rate has never been questioned, but sometimes young guys are just a little over-enthusiastic," Demetriou said.
"[At the Pride] he had to concentrate more on the quality and less on the quantity, because he was doing a hell of a lot of work but he needed to concentrate on the quality of his work and taper it back a little bit and get his contact right defensively.
"But he's one of our better defenders now week-in, week-out. He's got a big whack in him now. He's a big body, people forget how big he is.
"Playing NRL for 80 minutes is pretty tough and it takes some experience and some knowledge about how to get around the field and when to get your rest and when not to get it, he's learning that now.
"When needed to, he keeps finding that extra effort, which is what you want. He's one of our best for kick pressures, escorts, that type of thing – for the one-per-cent plays he's probably one of our better ones."
Lowe's defence is tightening up with more minutes in top grade, tackling at a rate of 93.5 per cent compared with 92 per cent on five fewer tackles per game last year.
In attack, errors were rife in his game in 2014 – coming at a rate of one per game – but he has since tightened the handle, committing just the two to this point of the season.
While Lowe is becoming safer with ball in hand, Demetriou sees more of a flamboyant, ball-playing future for the 24-year-old.
"The attacking side could be a little better and that will come with experience; his smarts around the field and knowing what to do and when to do it," he said.
"He runs a really good line and he does have a bit of ball-playing in him, he's just got to get the confidence to use that. In time and with maturity that will come.
"He's learning off guys like Gavin Cooper who is one of the best back-rowers in the competition, and for Lowey he should be absorbing everything he can off Coops."