Matt Bowen named in Cowboys trial squad - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Matt Bowen named in Cowboys trial squad

By Laine Clark 17/02/2009 08:47:07 PM Comments (0)

There was a shock inclusion in the North Queensland Cowboys' opening NRL trial squad released on Tuesday - but he won't be playing.

Buoyed by a remarkable recovery from radical knee surgery, Matt Bowen was named in the Cowboys' 25-strong squad for Sunday's trial against New Zealand Warriors at Auckland.

However, Cowboys coach Neil Henry stressed that the ex-Test fullback would only be training in New Zealand - not running out against the Warriors.

Bowen only began running for the first time in eight months in January after undergoing surgery to implant artificial cartilage in his knee last July.

He successfully completed his first full ball session of his recovery at Townsville on Tuesday morning.

The former Queensland Origin flyer was initially expected to miss the first four to six weeks of the 2009 season following surgery but his rapid recovery suddenly has him pencilled in for the March 13 opener against the Broncos.

However, Henry is still taking a "softly, softly" approach despite naming Bowen in his opening trial squad.

Bowen and forward Steve Southern will only be travelling with the team to take part in the "mini-camp" that will coincide with the Cowboys' NZ stay.

"(Head trainer) Billy Johnstone is going across with Murph (performance manager Glen Murphy) as well, so he can train over there," Henry said of Bowen's inclusion.

"We are using this as a mini-camp to set some goals for the season - and he (Bowen) is an integral part of our team."

Henry said Bowen was more likely to return in next weekend's trial in Cairns against Penrith.

"(But) we are not going to rush him, it's a long season," Henry said.

"He won't see the doc until just before the trial in Cairns. If he doesn't get the okay there he won't play and then he would be in doubt for the first competition game."

He said Ben Farrar and Ty Williams were fullback options if Bowen failed to return to full fitness.

Cowboys skipper Johnathan Thurston also featured in the 25-strong squad and will play.

The dual Dally M Medallist said he was feeling "fresh" after recovering from off-season groin surgery.

"The body is very good, the mind is fresh," he said.

"I had a good break, I have been training now for nearly five weeks so I am looking forward to getting out on the paddock."

New signing Grant Rovelli will run out against his old club the Warriors as he rotates at five-eighth with Travis Burns.

"Having those two there creates competition for spots, in previous years we haven't really had that," Thurston said.

"Hopefully we can play well together and help push towards the finals."

Burns was limited to 14 games in 2008 due to injury, suspension and lack of form, forcing the Cowboys to experiment with Daniel Abraham, Sione Faumuina and Justin Smith in the halves.

North Queensland are desperate for game time after their opening trial in Mackay was washed out last weekend.

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