ANTHONY Bowman, a tip for the top when he was a kid, is back from Australia to kick-start his English rugby league career with Oldham.
Now 26, and formerly of Halifax, Swinton Lions and Rockingham Sharks in Western Australia, Bowman can play half-back, centre or loose-forward.
“I’m not sure what role Oldham have in mind for me, but I’m happy to play anywhere,” said Bowman, who has signed a one-year deal to link up with Scott Naylor’s new-look squad.
“They’re assembling a good group and I’m raring to go. I can’t wait to get cracking. I know a few of the Oldham lads and I played in the same team as Richie Hawkyard at Swinton in 2014.”
The year before that, aged 21, Halifax-born Bowman played two games for Roughyeds on loan from The Shay in Scott Naylor’s first season as coach.
In each game he partnered Lewis Palfrey at half-back in a 26-18 win against Hemel Stags at Whitebank, followed by a 36-32 win against the Scorpions in South Wales.
More recently, and shortly after returning from Australia last summer, he played a one-off game for Keighley Cougars, again at half-back, this time alongside Benn Hardcastle.
And yes, you’ve guessed it, it was the night troubled Cougars provided Naylor with his darkest hours of the season by recording a shock 15-8 win at Cougar Park.
Said Oldham’s boss:
“Anthony will have gained vast experience in Australia. He was there a long time and whatever level you play at out there it’s going to be tough.
“He has additional appeal because he can play in a few positions. That gives us options which is always important and handy to have.
“We’re delighted to land him and I’m looking forward to working with him again as I did briefly in my first season at Oldham.”
A product of Siddal, like Zack McComb, Bowman was snapped up by Wigan Warriors when he was 16 and by the time he was just 17 he was starring in their under-18s.
Wigan wanted to tie him up on a long-term contract and put him in digs in the town, but he didn’t want to leave home so he signed instead for Halifax in 2009.
Still aged 17, he made his Halifax debut off the bench in a narrow defeat at Batley. Fax used four players with Oldham connections — Jon Goddard, Mark Roberts, Said Tamghart and David Larder.
Between the aged of 17 and 21 he played 47 times for Halifax and, aged 20, was on the bench when Fax beat Featherstone 21-12 in the final of the Northern Rail Cup.
He was tipped to succeed either Paul Handforth or Anthony Thackeray as one of the Fax halves, but injury put paid to that and he ultimately moved to Swinton where he scored six tries in 11 games in 2014.
When Down Under beckoned he joined the Sharks in the Rockingham area of Perth and spent two and a half years there, during which time he was selected for the West Australia State side for matches all over Australia.
“For most of my time in Australia I was used as a loose-forward but I’m happy to play wherever I’m needed,”