North Queensland Cowboys gunÂ Matt Bowen is still yet to run on his injured knee; only several weeks out from the 2009 NRL competition. At this stage, light training duties for Bowen has seen slight soreness in hisÂ right knee and these problems continue to hamper his returning to full training and sprinting.
With the 2009 pre-season well underway for his Cowboys teammates, there have been concerns from some corners that the knee problems may not allow Bowen to return to his full lighting speed and damaging side step.
While still onlyÂ 26 a fit Matt Bowen has plenty to offer the Cowboys for years to come, however at this stage he still remainsÂ 2 weeks away from being allowed to run. Overall, Bowen hasn’tÂ even jogged in over 8 months.
A specific program ofÂ cycling, swimming and weights has helped Bowen keep some form of fitnessÂ afterÂ surgery last year to implant artificial cartilage.
Cowboys medics expect the light training routine to eventually benefit Bowen, with an expected return around Easter.
“The knee’s good. It’s a bit sore but I’m getting through everything,” Bowen said. “I’ve started on the bike, swimming and doing weights and I’ve been given permission to start walking – nothing too serious.
“There’s a bit of general soreness. I expected that. The physio has been saying to me it’s not 100 per cent, it will be a bit sore, so to prepare myself for it.
“I’ll walk the next two weeks and see if it blows up. Hopefully in two to three weeks I’ll start jogging and straight-line running.”
With the arrival of former Raider coach Neil Henry to the helm – much is expected in terms of improvement for the North Queensland Cowboys.Â Â A disappointing 2008 was not only hampered by injury, but by the axing of long term coach Graham Murray and rumours constantly flying around about player in-fighting.
2009 will see the likes of high-profile signings Antonio Kaufusi and Willie Tonga join the ranksÂ andÂ boost the stocks of players in the main squad at the Cowboys.
The Cowboys are saying the next 2-3 weeks are critical for Bowens recovery and will determine how early in the season the boom back can return.
“I’m happy to just poke along and get the little things right,” Bowen said.
“I’ll bide my time. I’ve got to think of the long term. I don’t want to rush it and be limping the rest of my life.
“Hopefully I can learn how to run again. It’s been eight months.
“I’ve still got my fingers crossed for round 1 but I’m not pushing myself. It’s a long season.”
There’s no chance of Bowen taking his place in any of the Cowboys pre-season trial matches before NRL 2009 starts; however in some good news – halfbackÂ Johnathan Thurston should play inÂ the club’s final hit-out against Penrith in Cairns.
Thurston also had his dramas with injury in 2008, eventually undergoing groin surgery in December.