Leeds Rhinos Bygones: Vowles proved to be a key man in West Yorkshire rugby league

Adrian Vowles, second from right, with fellow new Leeds Rhinos' signings, from left: Wayne McDonald, Matt Adamson, Willie Poching, and Ben Walker ahead of the 2002 season.
Adrian Vowles, second from right, with fellow new Leeds Rhinos' signings, from left: Wayne McDonald, Matt Adamson, Willie Poching, and Ben Walker ahead of the 2002 season.
0
Have your say

ONE OF the toughest and most determined players of his era, Adrian Vowles had the distinction of playing in Super League for Castleford Tigers, Leeds Rhinos and Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.

Born on May 30, 1971, Vowles made one State of Origin appearance for Queensland in 1994, during a stint with Gold Coast Seagulls.

Initially a centre, he also played for North Queensland Cowboys – and made an unwanted entry into the club’s record books when he was sent off in their first top-flight match, in 1995.

He was appointed captain by coach Graham Lowe in 1996, but moved to England the following year to join Castleford.

Joining a club struggling against relegation, he took time to settle, but went on to become one of their most popular and effective stars of the summer era, having switched to a pivotal role at loose-forward.

One of the highlights of his time at Tigers was a Challenge Cup win over Rhinos at Headingley in 1998.

The following year he starred for Tigers as they won at Leeds in an elimination play-off, ending Graham Murray’s time as Leeds coach.

Vowles and coach Stuart Raper transformed Tigers’ fortunes and his efforts were rewarded in 1999 when he pipped current Castleford coach Daryl Powell to the coveted Man of Steel award as Super League’s top player.

The following year he played for Scotland in the World Cup and Tigers fans were stunned when he joined their arch-rivals Leeds ahead of the 2002 season.

His debut came in one of Leeds’ most memorable victories of the summer era, a shock 17-4 Challenge Cup win over Bradford Bulls at Valley Parade.

Vowles made 20 appearances for Leeds, scoring two tries, but he never looked completely at home and was released towards the end of the campaign to become player-coach at Wakefield.

Wildcats were in relegation trouble at the time, but he helped keep them in Super League that season and the following year, before being released and returning to Castleford for the final three games of the 2003 campaign.

Vowles then headed home to Australia at the end of the year and played Queensland Cup rugby for Toowoomba Clydesdales and Burleigh Bears, before – yet again – Tigers sent out an SOS.

Battling for promotion from the second tier, Tigers saw Vowles as the ideal man to spearhead their bid and he was a key figure as they reached the Grand Final, making his final appearance for the club in their title-winning triumph over Whitehaven.

Kallum Watkins (Picture: David Neilson/SWpix.com/PhotosportNZ)

England v Papua New Guinea: England in need of 80-minute effort