Matt Bowen’s stint in English Super League may have got off to a rocky start but he has re-signed with St Helens for the 2015 season.
By his own admission Matty Bowen experienced a disappointing start to his first season in Super League but he has high hopes of finishing it on a high at Old Trafford on Saturday night.
The 32-year-old Australian full-back makes no secret of the fact that he struggled at first to make the adjustment to the English game after spending the first 13 years of his career with North Queensland Cowboys.
Bowen went from tropical Queensland at the height of an Australian summer straight into the middle of winter in the north of England to join up with Wigan, initially without his family.
He was the newly-crowned Super League champions’ choice to fill the boots of the departed Sam Tomkins but he was in and out of the team for the first half of the season.
However, his dashing runs from deep gradually made him a fan favourite and he has missed only two games in the last three and a half months as Wigan clinched a second successive grand final appearance at Old Trafford, where they will defend their title against arch rivals St Helens.
“For me personally, I didn’t start the season off well,” Bowen said.
“I was pretty slow to the learn the system at Wigan and the combinations with Matty Smith and Greeny (Blake Green).
“But it’s sort of been building during the year and the last couple of weeks we’ve certainly been improving and that helps me as well.”
Bowen is now enjoying himself in Wigan so much that he taken up the option in his contract of a second season in Super League.
“It was always my plan,” he said. “I wanted to come over see what it’s like and see if my family enjoy it. They seem to enjoy it so it made my decision a lot easier.”
Bowen’s first Super League grand final appearance comes nine years after he played in an NRL title decider, where, despite scoring the opening try, he could not prevent his side going down 30-16 to the Wests Tigers.
“I’m hoping for a better result than we had in ’05,” Bowen said.
“It’s going to be tough, we need to play our best rugby this weekend.”
Bowen is looking forward to running out in front of a 70,000 crowd and the unique atmosphere generated for a Wigan-St Helens derby, whether it is for a grand final or a pre-season friendly which marked his first taste of English rugby league.
“The guys spoke about the atmosphere before we played a friendly at the start of the year but it caught me by surprise,” he said.
“I love the way the fans get behind their team and sing to their players. Back home, the only time they sing out is when someone scores a try but here they sing the whole time, it’s pretty good. I can’t wait for Saturday.”