MATTY Bowen has vowed to make the most of his golden chance to win the first domestic trophy of his glittering career.
The Australian No.1 failed to win a trophy during more than a decade in the NRL and, at 32, knows Saturday’s Grand Final against St Helens presents a glorious opportunity to end the barren run.
The former North Queensland Cowboy said: “When you play in a Grand Final when you’re younger, you think they’re going to come along all the time, and they don’t.
“The last time I played in a Grand Final was nine years ago. I’ve waited a long time for a chance to do it again. Hopefully we get a better result than I did last time. I can’t wait.”
Bowen played in an NRL Grand Final in 2005, when his Cowboys outfit were downed by a Pat Richards-inspired Wests Tigers.
Since then, they have failed to make the showcase decider – in his last two years before moving to England, they were dumped out of the play-offs after controversial decisions.
“There were a couple of times we went close,” he reflected.
He has won a clutch of individual awards and also enjoyed modest success at representative level.
He toured with the 2004 Tri-Nations-winning Australia squad – though he didn’t figure during the series – and played bit-part roles for Queensland in their State of Origin success in 2006 and ‘07.
During the Kangaroos tour a decade ago as a 22-year-old, he attended a Manchester United game – and he will be back at Old Trafford on Saturday for a showdown which will be watched by his family and friends in the early hours of Sunday morning in Queensland.
“I’ve had messages from back home, they’re getting up early in the morning to watch it. My mum is still over so she’ll be there... I’m looking forward to it,” he said.
“I just want to play well this weekend for the Wigan fans and for ourselves.
“This is why I came over, to play in the big games and we’ve got a chance this weekend.
It’s not going to be easy, but we’ll enjoy the week.
“Some players are different, but for me I try and relax. If you get too excited at the start of the week you can go into a game drained out. Chances like this don’t come around often, so I’m going to take it with both hands.”
After a slow start to his Super League career, Bowen has become a firm crowd-pleaser, lighting up many games with long-range tries and mesmerising footwork to earn a new deal for 2015.
“The season has gone quick, it does when you’re enjoy ing yourself,” he added.
“Hopefully I can finish on a high. I’ve really enjoyed it. I just love how the fans sing the whole time – hopefully we can give them something to cheer about this weekend.”
Meanwhile, fans can still buy Grand Final tickets from the club after they received a third allocation.
Their initial batch of 10,000 quickly sold out. Fans have also been buying tickets directly from the RFL.