Warriors hold Bowen talks

Matty Bowen
Matty Bowen
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WIGAN have held talks with Matty Bowen’s representatives about a swansong season in Super League.

The 31-year-old has surfaced on their radar as a possible replacement for NRL-bound Sam Tomkins, after fellow Australian rep star Anthony Minichiello rejected a move to England.

But, despite suggestions yesterday, a deal is far from over the line.

And if media reports in Australia about Bowen’s medical records are to be believed, they would almost certainly seek assurances he will be physically up for the demands of a Super League campaign before offering him a deal.

Bowen’s agent, Wayne Beavis, said the player’s future would be determined within the next week.

He is unlikely to be offered a new contract at North Queensland Cowboys, but mindful of his status as a club legend, the Townsville-based outfit are lining up an off-field ambassadorial role with indigenous youth.

Bowen has been a firm NRL crowd-pleaser for more than a decade.

Blessed with blistering pace off the mark, he has scored 127 tries in 265 NRL games.

But his knee problems are well documented, and Brisbane’s Courier-Mail newspaper reported last night that club medical records suggest his “battle-weary” joints would struggle to cope for another season.

Wigan would be keen to seek assurances about his physical condition before handing him a career lifeline.

Former Kangaroos stand-off Matthew Johns, who had a season with Wigan in 2001, said: “I would hate to see Matty lost to the game. If he has the desire to go around again, I think he has one more season left in him.

“I know Matt has problems with his knees and he isn’t the player he used to be.

“But I don’t see that many good attacking players in the competition that a club couldn’t benefit having him around.”

Wigan are seeking an experienced full-back to plug the gap left by Tomkins’ pending, but still unconfirmed, move to New Zealand Warriors in 2014.

They initially looked at former Kangaroos No.1 Minichiello but he rejected their advances to sign a new deal with Sydney Roosters.

Though the Warriors have exciting teenagers Ryan Hampshire and Lewis Tierney emerging through the system, it’s thought they are not yet ready to be handed the No.1 duties permanently, with Shaun Wane instead preferring to recruit an experienced full-back for one season to smooth the transition while helping with their development.

Tomkins, meanwhile, flew out to France with the rest of Wigan’s squad yesterday.

The full-back – as well as Ben Flower and Matty Smith – are included in Wane’s 19-man squad to face Catalan, having missed Friday’s 30-12 loss to Huddersfield.

Sean O’Loughlin (hamstring) and Darrell Goulding (knee) miss out, but both should be fit to face Hull FC at Wembley next week. Epa Lauaki has been rested.

Wigan’s likely line-up: S.Tomkins; Charnley, Hughes, Thornley, Richards; Green, Smith; Mossop, McIlorum, Flower, Hansen, Farrell, Tuson. Subs (four from): Crosby, Dudson, Gelling, Taylor, L.Tomkins, Burke.

Phil Bentham has been appointed referee for the Challenge Cup Final.