FP – Giving popular Australian star Matt Bowen a fitting send off into retirement is extra motivation for Wigan in this weekend’s Super League grand final.
Bowen will end his illustrious 16-year rugby league career when the Warriors take on Leeds in the title decider at Old Trafford on Saturday (Sunday AEDT).
An electric runner, the 33-year-old fullback’s career is strewn with highlights.
He retains the record for most NRL games for North Queensland – 270 – was responsible for one of State of Origin’s iconic moments when he scored an intercept try for Queensland in the 2005 series opener and is generally regarded as one of history’s most dynamic fullbacks.
However for all his accolades, there is one glaring omission – a premiership.
He played in North Queensland’s 2005 NRL grand final loss to Wests Tigers and the Warriors fell to St Helens in the Super League grand final in his first season in the European competition last year.
“Matty Bowen, one of the best players in the world, has never won a grand final and that means a lot to the players. They love him to pieces,” Wigan coach Shaun Wane said.
Bowen will be one of five Australians lining up at Old Trafford with Leeds boasting much-travelled forward Adam Cuthbertson, who finished second in the season’s Man of Steel standings, ex-Brisbane back Joel Moon, former Gold Coast and Parramatta forward Brett Delaney and Mitch Garbutt, who was let go by the Broncos halfway through the season.
Sydney Roosters fans will also be keeping a close eye on Wigan winger Joe Burgess ahead of his arrival at Moore Park in 2016 on a three-year deal.
Burgess whose 23 tries earned him a maiden selection to the Super League Dream Team is confident he is ready to sign off from his hometown club on a high.
“This is a massive game for me, there’s a lot of emotion involved having been talking about it all week,” Burgess said.
“I have not really thought about leaving this club until now. It has come to mind that this is my last game and I want to make it something to remember.”
The two sides have met four times this season with two wins each.
The Rhinos are on the hunt for their first treble, having already scooped the Challenge Cup and League Leaders Shield.
They are also determined to send out club legends Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai as grand final winners.
Highlights from Matt Bowen’s illustrious career
* North Queensland (2001-13) – 270 NRL games
* Wigan (2014-15) – 38 Super League games
* Queensland (2003-07) – 10 State of Origin games
* Australia (2004) – 1 Test games
Grand Final Appearances
* 2005 – Wests Tigers 30 def North Queensland 16
* 2014 – St Helens 14 def Wigan 6
* North Queensland – 130 tries, 36 goals, 5 field goals, 597 points
* Wigan – 19 tries, 21 goals, 118 points
* Queensland – 4 tries, 16 points
* 2007 Dally M Fullback of the Year
* 2007 Rugby League Players Association’s Player of the Year
* 2007 Cowboys Player of the Year
* Most appearances for North Queensland