Mowen jumps on the wagon
Brumbies captain Ben Mowen will forego alcohol this season in an attempt to lead the ACT to a Super Rugby title. Photo: Colleen Petch
ACT Brumbies captain Ben Mowen has put himself on a booze ban to chase his Super Rugby dream and hopes giving up alcohol will launch him to the best form of his career.
In a sign of Mowen's determination to lead the Brumbies to the top of the competition, he will sacrifice alcohol to focus on erasing the disappointment of missing last year's finals.
The back-rower also revealed that his two-year contract extension - which will keep him in Canberra until the end of 2015 - will be his last deal in Australian rugby.
But before he leaves to chase a deal overseas after the next World Cup, Mowen desperately wants a Super Rugby title.
The Brumbies begin their season against the Queensland Reds at Canberra Stadium on February 16.
Mowen has been on his booze ban since returning to training after the Christmas holidays and said he wanted to leave no stone unturned in his quest for a championship.
''I've given up alcohol for the entire year, I want to make sure I give absolutely everything to it,'' Mowen said.
''Not that it [alcohol] has ever been an influence on my career, but I just think I'm going to take away any doubts and then I can have three of the hardest years I've got in me. It's just an individual thing, but I want to be able to walk away [from Australia] a happy man knowing everything is out there.''
In his first year with the Brumbies, Mowen helped guide the team to within one win of a drought-breaking finals appearance before they ''choked'' at the last hurdle.
The 28-year-old was a surprise choice to lead the new Brumbies era under coach Jake White.
But the former NSW Waratah and Queensland Reds No.8's leadership skills played a big role in the team becoming the surprise packets of the competition.
He has spoken with White about his decision to give up alcohol, but said there was no plan to make it a squad-wide rule like the ban the Canberra Raiders imposed on themselves last year.
''I know some guys in the team are interested in doing it, but we're just gauging how it goes at this stage,'' Mowen said. ''We want to take the side to a different level … we haven't locked in anything yet and I don't think you can force guys into anything.
''It's individual and for me it's a box I want to tick so I can do everything I can.''
Mowen is the latest player to commit until the end of 2015, which coincides with the end of White's coaching contract.
David Pocock, Stephen Moore and Ben Alexander have also signed on as White worked on deals for a host of players to join them.
Mowen turned down lucrative options overseas to remain in Australia. He was on the cusp of Wallabies selection last season and has been biding his time waiting for an opportunity on the international stage. He hopes that opportunity will come before he moves abroad for the final years of his career.
But for now his focus is on ending the eight-season finals drought in Canberra and claiming the club's third Super Rugby championship.
''I've found each year that I've been playing better and better footy and I just want to make sure my form this year keeps going in that direction,'' Mowen said.
''I know the next three years will be my best rugby but I want to make sure there's no stone unturned.
''I'm stoked to have [a deal to 2015] finished, we're building towards something here, it's the happiest I've ever been in a rugby environment. It means I'm done, I'll be 30 at the next World Cup, so I'd like to go overseas and I'd be happy to sign off with a 10-year career in Australia.''
The Brumbies will return to Canberra on Saturday night after playing their first pre-season trial against the Western Force in Darwin on Friday night.