Rugby League


Bowen is favoured as No.1 pick for fullback

Matt Bowen is poised to receive a shock recall to the Origin arena for the deciding game at Suncorp Stadium.

Bowen is one of several fullbacks in contention to replace the injured Billy Slater, along with Greg Inglis, Ben Barba and Darius Boyd.

However, Maroons sources have told Fairfax Bowen has the inside running and can cement his place with a solid performance in Saturday night's clash with Canberra at Townsville. Senior Queensland players have been approached for their feedback on who they think should wear the No. 1 jersey. Their response has almost unanimously come back as Bowen, a squad favourite who has a proven track record in the Origin arena.

Johnathan Thurston has been particularly strong in pushing for Bowen. The pair form a lethal combination at club level for North Queensland and Thurston believes his selection would limit the disruption in the lead-up to the decider. There would also be the added bonus of having fellow Cowboys Brent Tate and Matt Scott in the side.

Much of the focus for the Maroons will revolve around providing legendary prop Petero Civoniceva a fitting farewell.

However, it is understood senior players view it as an opportunity to give Bowen, a 10-game veteran for the Maroons, a representative send-off of his own.

''Matt Bowen is in the box seat,'' the source told Fairfax. ''The selectors are keen to closely scrutinise the form of all of the candidates over the weekend, but there's a feeling that he is the best option. His club combination with Thurston, in particular, and Tate is important and will mean they hit the ground running in camp.''

Inglis said yesterday he was still holding out hope Slater would make a miraculous recovery, but if the Storm star wasn't fit he was happy to let Meninga decide.

''The beauty of it is that you can put me there, or you can put Benny Barba or Matty Bowen or Darius Boyd back there,'' Inglis said. ''No matter who is there, they'll do a job for us.''