Matt Bowen a likely starter for Cowboys - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Matt Bowen a likely starter for Cowboys

By Evan Schwarten 27/02/2009 04:58:35 PM Comments (0)

North Queensland Cowboys star Matt Bowen will make his much anticipated return to rugby league on Saturday night after doctors cleared him to play.

Bowen, whose 2008 season was brought to a premature end by a knee injury in round eight, is expected to be in the starting line up for the trial match against the Panthers in Cairns.

Cowboys coach Neil Henry said the club wasn't pressuring the fullback to return before he was ready.

"If he's happy to start the game he'll start the game," he said.

"It's a long season, there's no need to rush him in if he's not confident on his knee but we're fairly confident he'll play."

The game is the last chance for halves Travis Burns and Grant Rovelli to secure the No.6 jersey for the opening round match against the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium.

Burns, whose 2008 season was interrupted by injury and suspension has been named in the starting line up against the Panthers but Henry will also give Warriors import Rovelli a chance to prove himself.

"There's not much between them so really it will come down to their games (on Saturday) for the make up of that team against the Broncos," he said.

Captain Johnathan Thurston said he was looking forward to establishing a partnership with whoever Henry picks to accompany him in the halves.

"Obviously over the last couple of years I've had a few different halves partners outside me so Neil's got a couple at his disposal and hopefully we can form a combination with the one that he picks," he said.

Thurston said a new dimension had been added to the club's attacking arsenal this year with the arrival of former Bulldogs centre Willy Tonga.

"If anything its going to make our playing style a lot better, he's very dangerous on the flanks and all he needs is a little bit of room and he can cut you up so he's great to have playing outside you."

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