Sadly, favourite son Matt Bowen missed out on North Queensland’s historic NRL title win.
But a fitting Cowboys farewell still looms – at the 2016 Auckland Nines.
Well, that’s the view of North Queensland lock Jason Taumalolo.
Speculation is rife that Bowen may maintain the trend of retired legends returning for one last Nines hurrah after confirming he would return from UK Super League club Wigan to take up a North Queensland development role next year.
And Taumalolo couldn’t resist further stirring the pot, admitting Bowen deserved a Nines send off in Cowboys colours after watching their maiden 2015 NRL title win from the UK.
“Definitely mate, what better way for him to end his NRL career playing in the Cowboys jersey,” he said of Bowen, who spent the last two years in England after a record 270 games for North Queensland.
“If he does get the opportunity to play, I reckon that would be great.”
The closest Cowboys games record holder Bowen got to a premiership for his beloved North Queensland was the 2005 grand final loss to Wests Tigers.
And he appeared to be doomed to never win a title after seemingly ending his 16-year career in Wigan’s 22-20 Super League grand final loss to Leeds in October.
But Taumalolo said the 33-year-old Bowen might get one last crack at a trophy in Auckland next year for 2014 Nines champs North Queensland.
“I think he will show the young bucks a thing or two,” he said.
“The Nines is definitely for him. It’s fast and there is a lot of space to run.
“But, in saying that, it’s the club’s and players’ decision.”
There have been more unlikely Nines returns than Bowen.
At 42, Brad Fittler returned for the Sydney Roosters at the inaugural 2014 Nines, scoring a memorable 70m intercept try.
Manly great Steve Menzies also featured at last year’s tournament at the tender age of 40.
And Canberra’s Ken Nagas maintained the trend when he ran out for the Raiders at Eden Park at 41 in February – 12 years after his retirement.
Bowen has shown no signs of slowing down – he scored an inspirational solo try in Wigan’s tight Super League grand final loss to Leeds barely two months ago.