The NSW Waratahs have secured the services of two of their brightest pathway graduates, with the promotion of Jack Bowen and Ben Dowling to the main squad for the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season.
The elevation of Bowen and Dowling has taken the total to five academy graduates to progress into the main squad for the Waratahs 2023 season.
18-year-old Jack Bowen, son of Wallaby Scott Bowen, was schooled at Riverview and has spent three years in the NSW system representing the Waratahs Academy in the U15, U16, and U18 age levels.
Bowen’s strong form in 2022 was rewarded with selection in Nathan Grey’s Australian U20s team, where he featured in all three matches against New Zealand, Fiji, and Argentina.
The exciting flyhalf impressed for his club team Eastern Suburbs in the Shute Shield this season, steering the team strongly in their late surge to the finals in just his first year out of school.
“It’s been a dream come true to be training here full-time and have the opportunity to potentially one day wear the Sky-Blue jersey,” Bowen said.
“I’ve grown up supporting this team and attending games since I was three years old, so it’s incredibly special for myself and my family to get the opportunity to train with this elite team.
“After spending three years in the academy, I’m extremely proud to be a full-time member and have to thank Shannon Fraser and Andrew Cleverley who have helped me transition into a full-time professional environment”.
Born and raised in Sydney and attending St Joseph’s College in Hunters Hill, Ben Dowling has also progressed through the NSW pathways, through his time in the Waratahs U18’s Academy, and club rugby at Randwick.
Dowling has had a break-out year in the Australian Seven’s program, featuring in six of their eight tournaments in the 2021/22 season, helping the men’s team secure their first-ever season series win.
The talented outside back also represented Australia at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham alongside Waratahs teammate Mark Nawaqanitawase.
“After spending time with the team through the Academy and playing in Waratahs A games, it’s incredibly exciting to now be able to train and play with the team in a full-time capacity,” Dowling said.
“I loved my time this year in sevens on the World Series as I learned a lot and feel it helped develop my game, but I’m really excited to get back and commit to fifteens.
“The team had such a great season this year and hopefully I can help play a part in continuing the success into next season.”
Waratahs Head Coach Darren Coleman was delighted with the number of players that have graduated through the NSW pathways.
“We’re incredibly proud that Jack and Ben are our 4th and 5th players to graduate directly from our academy into the senior full-time squad. It’s a credit to Andrew Cleverley and Shannon Fraser and their program that we can continue to rely on our academy to produce so many players annually,” Coleman said.
“Jack is an exciting prospect, comes from a great pedigree, and made a great impact for Eastern Suburbs and their strong form in the back end of the season.
“I’m looking forward to him growing and gaining in-game knowledge from his involvement in the full-time squad alongside the quality playmakers we have here.
“Ben Dowling is a good young prospect and we’ve seen his quality throughout the sevens program and his form for Randwick in the Shute Shield.
“Ben offers us great utility throughout our backline, and we’re really excited to see him continue to develop in our program.”