Milestone in sight for Bowen - finally - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Milestone in sight for Bowen - finally

Laine Clark 29/03/2011 07:29:16 PM Comments (0)

Tributes have already begun for Matt Bowen as he prepares to break North Queensland's record for NRL games played on Saturday night.

Despite the looming milestone, coach Neil Henry was still left wondering how many matches the wily fullback could have racked up.

Not once but twice Bowen has been struck down by a career-threatening knee injury in a Cowboys career that will reach game No.204 against the Eels.

Ten years after his first grade debut, Bowen, 29, will eclipse Cowboys stalwart Paul Bowman's previous record mark when he runs out against Parramatta on his radically rebuilt knees.

However, Henry knew only too well that Bowen could have been celebrating much earlier if fate had not been so cruel.

"It's a tremendous achievement - 204 games for the club," Henry said.

"He has been a wonderful servant for the club over a number of years.

"And he has had two 10-month stints on the sideline with major knee surgery so he could have been pushing a lot more games."

After naming an unchanged side following Monday night's 34-6 thumping of Melbourne, Henry dipped his hat to Bowen over the milestone.

But Henry seemed more pleased that Bowen was back to his form of old after reigniting a dangerous combination with halfback Johnathan Thurston.

"It's just great seeing him bounce back from that adversity and play some football that we know he can play," he said.

"He's playing with a bit of confidence at the moment.

"He plays a big part in how we go on the night, just his presence - and he is a good foil for Johnathan.

"It was a tremendous performance last night."

Bowen bagged two tries as North Queensland notched their second win in three games - yet it was still not enough to earn man of the match honours.

That went to ex-Storm tackling machine Dallas Johnson - and fair enough, too.

"Fifty-one tackles and nine hit-ups - it was a tireless performance against his old club," Henry said of Johnson.

"He was relieved and happy (after beating Melbourne), but more relieved for the team performance."

As the Cowboys look to notch back to back wins for the first time in 18 months, Henry has kept the door open for team changes.

He said a final decision would be made on the availability of ex-Broncos flyer Antonio Winterstein (jaw) and backrower Scott Bolton (calf) later this week.

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