Bowen game-time key to Cowboys' success - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bowen game-time key to Cowboys' success

David Beniuk 09/09/2011 05:30:14 PM Comments (0)

Matt Bowen has his own theories about North Queensland's 2011 success, but the last time the brilliant fullback played this many games in a season the Cowboys fell one game short of an NRL grand final.

Bowen has played all 24 Cowboys games this year after recent seasons were crippled by two knee operations.

The last year he notched more than 20 games was 2007, coincidentally the last time North Queensland made the finals.

That year they made it all the way to a preliminary final against Manly in the second last week of a season in which Bowen played 27 games.

The modest 29-year-old says it's the impressive mix of talent at the club that is responsible for Saturday night's qualifying final appearance, also against the Sea Eagles, at the Sydney Football Stadium.

"Obviously the Cowboys bought well," he told AAP.

"Dallas Johnson, Glenn Hall and the Sims brothers (Ashton and Tariq), Tatey (Brent Tate), so they brought a lot of experience, a lot of old heads into the squad.

"There's a new mix of young players as well ... a lot of experience and inexperience gelled together."

Bowen's availability fluctuated over the three years his side missed out on September action.

He managed 16 games last year, 20 in 2009 and just six in 2008.

But his presence was never more valuable than during the five weeks this season the side was without injured Test playmaker Johnathan Thurston.

The Cowboys won three from five in that period with Bowen coming to the fore and doing plenty for his current tally of 17 try assists, just four less than Thurston.

"I sort of took it upon myself to try and direct or play well for the Cowboys when Johnno was missing," he said.

"We always love JT in the side, we missed him when he was out, but we had a lot of other senior boys who did step up when he was out."

Bowen's partnership with Thurston has long been considered the Cowboys' deadliest weapon, but the fullback said the No.7's absence allowed the team to develop what is now a triple act with 21-year-old five-eighth Ray Thompson.

"We try to share (the playmaking role) around with young Ray Thompson as well," he said.

"Johnno does most of it and I'll just sort of run around and see where I can fill in whenever I can."

Bowen hopes to finish his career with the Cowboys after flirting with a move to Super League before re-signing for two years in August.

"We had deep discussions with my manager and my partner," he said.

"I thought about it, to be honest, but in saying that I always say the Cowboys are the first priority and obviously I want to stay there.

"I ended up there and I'm happy so hopefully I can finish my career off there."

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