Matt Bowen

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This article is about the rugby league player. For the American football player, see Matt Bowen (American football). For the American musician, see Matt Bowen (musician).
Matt Bowen
Matt Bowen 2014.jpg
Bowen while playing for Wigan Warriors in 2014
Personal information
Full name Matthew Jeremy Bowen
Nickname Mango
Born (1982-03-09) 9 March 1982 (age 33)
Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Height 175 cm (5 ft 9 in)
Weight 84 kg (13 st 3 lb)
Playing information
Position Fullback, Five-eighth
Years Team Pld T G FG P
2001–13 Nth. Qld. Cowboys 270 130 36 5 597
2014– Wigan Warriors 30 16 0 0 64
Total 300 146 36 5 661
Years Team Pld T G FG P
2003–07 Queensland 10 4 0 0 16
2004 Australia 1 0 0 0 0
2011–12 Indigenous All Stars 2 1 0 0 4
2011 Prime Minister's XIII 1 0 0 0 0
As of 5 November 2014
Source: Herald Sun,,Nth Qld Cowboys

Matthew Jeremy Bowen (born 9 March 1982 in Cairns, Queensland) is an Australian professional rugby league footballer for English club Wigan Warriors of Super League. An Australian international and Queensland State of Origin representative fullback, he previously played in the National Rugby League for the North Queensland Cowboys, with whom he set the club's record for most matches. Bowen was also the NRL's top try scorer in the 2005 and 2007 seasons.


Bowen grew up in the Cape York Aboriginal community of Hopevale.[1] He attended Abergowrie College near Ingham where he started playing rugby league at the age of 12.[2] His school team won the Queensland schoolboys' competition in 1999 and he was named player of the tournament.[3][4] His schoolboy exploits attracted the attention of a number of NRL clubs in Sydney and Brisbane; however, he chose to pursue his professional career with his local team, the North Queensland Cowboys.[4] In 2000, he was part of the Cowboys' reserve grade team that made the grand final of the reserve grade competition.[5] Matt, also like his team mate and friend Johnathan Thurston proposed to his then girlfriend in New York City

Professional playing career[edit]


Bowen made his NRL Premiership debut on 17 February 2001 against Queensland rivals the Brisbane Broncos at Dairy Farmers Stadium, Townsville.[6]

In 2003, Bowen made his representative debut, being called up to the Queensland team for the second match of the State of Origin series.[7] He played 16 minutes as a substitute, as Queensland lost the series.[8] The following season, Bowen was selected in the Australian Kangaroos squad for a Tri-Nations series against New Zealand and Great Britain.[9] His selection followed a season in which the Cowboys finished one match away from qualifying for their first NRL Grand Final. He played as fullback in a tour match against Cumbria, scoring a try, although did not play in the Tri-Nations series, with Anthony Minichiello preferred as the Kangaroos' fullback.[10] However, after the Tri-Nations series, he made his Test debut in a one-off match against France in Carcassonne, that Australia won 52–30.[11][12][13] On the touring squad's return journey to Australia, he scored three tries in a non-Test exhibition match against the United States in Philadelphia.[14]

2005 was a breakthrough year for Bowen and the Cowboys. In the 2005 State of Origin series, Bowen proved to be the game-breaker in the first match. After coming off the bench in the second half, he intercepted a pass from New South Wales half-back Brett Kimmorley and ran 40m to score in extra time, thus winning the game for Queensland.[15] Bowen would also score tries in the second and third games of the series, although Queensland lost both matches to lose the series. He was selected in Queensland's starting line-up in the third match for the first time in his career, displacing Billy Slater.[16] Bowen's 21 tries for the 2005 NRL season made him the League's top try-scorer of the year.[17] The Cowboys made it to the 2005 NRL Grand Final, the club's first, where, despite Bowen scoring the opening try, they lost to the Wests Tigers, 30–16.

Bowen and the Cowboys failed to capitalise on their progress in 2005, finishing ninth on the 2006 NRL season ladder, outside the finals series. Bowen was left out of the Kangaroos' squad for the ANZAC Test against New Zealand,[18] was dropped from Queensland's side for the second match of the State of Origin series,[19] and scored only five tries in 24 matches for the Cowboys.[20]

Bowen in 2007.

In 2007, Bowen regained his top try-scorer's title, with 22 tries, and also made the most line breaks (32) and tackle breaks (220) in the NRL.[21] He also returned to the Queensland squad for the final match of the State of Origin series, and the Cowboys returned to the NRL finals, finishing third on the ladder. He was voted by his peers as the Rugby League Player Association's player of the year,[22] was named the Cowboys' player of the year for the first and only time in his career,[23] and was given the award for the NRL's best fullback at the season-ending Dally M Awards. He also signed a new contract to remain at the Cowboys through the 2011 season, with his coach Graham Murray claiming he was the "best fullback in the game".[24] Despite the accolades for his performances during the year, Bowen was controversially omitted from the Kangaroos side to face New Zealand at the end of the season, as Brett Stewart and Kurt Gidley were preferred at fullback.[25] Kangaroos' coach Ricky Stuart argued that Bowen's small stature was a factor against his selection.[26] Former dual-code international Wendell Sailor argued that selectors were correct to leave Bowen out of the national team, suggesting that his form in club football had not been replicated at State of Origin level.[27]

Bowen started the 2008 season slowly, missing Rounds Four and Five of the NRL due to a left knee injury. He returned in Round Six against the New Zealand Warriors and scored three tries.[28] However, barely weeks later, Bowen injured his knee again and underwent surgery that ruled him out of action for the rest of the season.[29] Without him, North Queensland finished 15th on the NRL ladder.

Bowen returned to football in the 2009 pre-season.[30] However in August he injured his right knee in the same way that he had injured his left knee the previous season. Another round of surgery followed, ruling him out for the remainder of the season and the beginning of the next.[31][32]


The Cowboys had a disastrous 2010 campaign, finishing second-last on the ladder. Bowen played his 200th match for the Cowboys during the season, in a September defeat by the Sydney Roosters.[33] Bowen missed half the season due to knee reconstruction he had during the end of the 2009 season. Bowen was one of few Cowboys who played well during 2010, but was still far from his best form.

Bowen reached another milestone early in the 2011 season, surpassing Paul Bowman's record for the most number of NRL matches for a Cowboys player.[34] The Cowboys had an improved season, finishing seventh on the ladder and returning to the finals series. Bowen returned to representative football, being selected for a Prime Minister's XIII that defeated Papua New Guinea in a post-season exhibition match.[35] During the season, Bowen signed a new contract with the Cowboys through 2013, citing his "love" for the club and a desire to continue to be close to his extended family. He had considered competing offers to play in England.[36] After the season, he was shortlisted for the Rugby League International Federation's Fullback of the Year award.[37] Bowen returned to some of his best form in 2011 after battling career threatening knee injuries in 2009 and 10.

Long-time Queensland and Australian captain Darren Lockyer has called Bowen a "little freak", citing his skills and dynamism.[38] Respected coach and commentator Phil Gould remarked in 2005 that he was a "modern-day icon of the game", saying: "Bowen has unique football instincts. He performs the difficult with ease and some of his feats have redefined what we once believed to be impossible."[39]

Bowen played with his cousin Brenton Bowen at the Cowboys from 2003 to 2007, before Brenton moved to the Gold Coast Titans.[40]

Bowen's nephew Rex Liddy played with Australian Football League club Gold Coast Suns in 2011.[41]

Many rated Bowen's 2012 season as his best in his career, he surpassed the 250 game mark in the Cowboys first home emanation final since 2007, defeating the Broncos 33 points to 16, where Bowen starred in the match, Bowen was also the Cowboys starting fullback in the club's semi-final 'controversial' loss to Manly (22-12).

Bowen recorded 28 try-assists in 2012, more than his co-captain and partner in crime Johnathan Thurston (25). Bowen came second in the Dally M medal he finished the season with 26 points, the winner Ben Barba tallied 32 points, Bowen was also a finalist for Dally M fullback of the year but again missed out to Ben Barba. Bowen scored 13 tries in 2012 his most in a season since 2007.

Bowen was 18th man for Queensland origin in game three of the 2012 series.


Bowen's first match for the Wigan Warriors was at home against Huddersfield in the Super League, which Wigan lost 8-24 [42] Late in the 2014 season Bowen was fined £1,000 by the Rugby Football League for breaching its social media policy.[43] Wigan reached the 2014 Super League Grand Final and Bowen played at fullback in their loss to St. Helens.



2001: NRL Debut
2003: Origin Debut
2004: Test Debut
2004: First finals campaign
2005: Leading tryscorer (21)
2007: Leading tryscorer (22)
2007: Dally M Fullback of the Year
2007: Rugby League Professionals Association's Player of the Year
2007: Cowboys' Player of the Year
2007: North Queensland Cowboys Player's Player of the Year
2011: Most matches played for the North Queensland Cowboys (204).


2005: NRL Grand FinalNorth Queensland Cowboys – Runners-up


  1. ^ Marshall, Matt (20 September 2007). "Bowen hopes to stay a Cowboy". The Courier-Mail. Retrieved 7 October 2011. 
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