Intrust Super Cup excitement machine Javid Bowen will make his NRL debut when the Cowboys face St George Illawarra at 1300SMILES Stadium on Saturday.
Bowen beat Matt Wright to the left centre position that vacated by veteran centre Kane Linnett (who is expected to return in Round 9), who suffered a shoulder injury in Friday’s game against Brisbane.
The 22-year-old nephew of Cowboys great Matthew Bowen joined the club's full-time squad in 2014, impressing in the 2014 and 2015 Auckland Nines, but has had to bide his time with state league feeder team Northern Pride.
Excited about the announcement on Tuesday, Cowboys coach Paul Green said giving young players such as Bowen their first opportunity in top grade was a highlight of his job.
"That’s the exciting and rewarding part of the job. The young guys, it’s a big moment in their lives and their footy careers, so to be a part of that makes it pretty special," he said.
"[Bowen] doesn’t get too excited about too many things. I actually told him on the phone, but I did detect a hint of excitement in his voice, so hopefully he will show some of that enthusiasm at training for the rest of the week."
Known for his attacking qualities, Bowen will give the left edge a different look to Linnett, who is one of the more solid defensive centres in the NRL.
"He is a different player to Kane, I think he probably brings a bit more attacking spark and footwork. But it’s important that he plays his own game – that he doesn’t come in and try to be anyone else," Green said.
"He’s handled playing at that positon, he’s played a lot of that position at Intrust Super Cup level and I’m sure he will do a good job for us.
"He’s got ‘JT’ inside him and Gavin Cooper inside him again, so it’s a pretty experienced edge; certainly good players to be making your debut around.
"Matt Wright was obviously in the frame given that he’s done the job for us in the past, but Javid has played well at the Intrust Super Cup level for a while. He’s got good speed, good footwork and he’s worked hard to get himself fit over the pre-season, and now is as good a time as any to find out about him at NRL level."
Bowen is the newest in a long list of Intrust Super Cup players to have graduated to the NRL stage, and the Cowboys mentor – a former premiership-winning coach of the Wynnum Manly Seagulls – said it is a testament to the QRL for maintaining such a strong competition.
"I think it’s a terrific competition and we’re lucky that we have that pathway there to be able to allow players to develop. There are a number of examples: Matt Parcel is playing for Manly, ‘Lowey’ (Ethan Lowe), Jake Granville.
"You can rattle off a number of players that have gone through that pathway. It’s a terrific competition and full credit to the QRL."