Cowboys legend Bowen open to Nines swansong
Cowboys legend Matt Bowen has put some early selection pressure on premiership-winning coach Paul Green, welcoming the chance to make a final farewell to footy in next year's Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines, but only "if I get picked".
After two years with English powerhouse Wigan in the UK Super League Bowen is returning to North Queensland to take up a community development role with the Cowboys in 2016 but the push is on for a final run around with the club he played 12 seasons with in the NRL.
With a trial match booked against the Broncos in Bundaberg on the same weekend, Cowboys lock Jason Taumalolo is unsure whether he will make the trip to Auckland but believes Bowen should definitely be on the plane.
"What better way to exit his NRL career than playing in a Cowboys jersey for North Queensland legend Matty Bowen," Taumalolo said.
"If he does get the opportunity to play I reckon it would be great. Not only that I reckon he'll show these young bucks a thing or two.
"It would be great if he could play the Nines but that's a club decision.
"Nines is definitely a game for him – fast and a lot of space to run and definitely Matty Bowen would be suitable to the game."
Taumalolo's endorsement quickly made its way onto social media where he responded in the same cheeky manner in which he played 270 NRL games for the club, putting pressure on Green to add to him to former legends to have taken part such as Brad Fittler, Steve Menzies, Ken Nagas and Matt King.
If I get picked 😜 https://t.co/8zKEziDarg— matt bowen (@mattb_wen1) December 3, 2015
With the exception of superstar Johnathan Thurston, in the past two years Green has selected near full-strength Cowboys squads to take part in the nines, the club winning its first major title in the inaugural tournament in 2014.
They now have a more sizeable trophy in the trophy cabinet and this week the entire playing squad returned to begin preparations for their title defence.
Speaking at St Joseph's Mundingburra which is Taumalolo's nominated Townsville school for the Cowboys' Adopt-A-School program, the Dally M Lock of the Year said spending time with starstruck kids was a nice break from the punishment of pre-season.
"I wouldn't say it was the best of sessions but the boys went in there and gave it their all and that's all we ask for," he said.
"Everyone came back willing to work hard and the last couple of days have been brutal but it will be good for us in the long run.
"I enjoy spending time with the kids. Every day they always look forward to having a Cowboy at their school and my school St Joseph's Mundingburra enjoy having me there and helping them read books and a lot of the educational stuff as well as the stuff outside of the classroom.
"I've got a lot of little nieces and nephews that I hang around with.
"I'm sure they enjoy spending time with me just as much as I enjoy spending time with them."