When David Gower glanced over to coach Geoff Toovey on Monday morning, he was hoping for a sign. A hint that five-years’ worth of one-year contracts across three clubs, after a stint in England, would amount to a grand-final appearance.
Gower has put his hand up to fill the vacancy left by prop Richie Fa’aoso, who broke his neck in Manly’s preliminary final win against South Sydney on Friday night.
But Toovey was giving little away as Gower battles for a bench spot along with rookie James Hasson. “I’ve shot him a couple of looks but he has given us nothing,” said Gower, who turned 28 on Monday.
Gower, like Fa’aoso, is a rugby league journeyman. After playing for Salford for two seasons, he returned to Wests Tigers in 2009, he managed just one game for his junior club before switching to St George Illawarra where he made seven appearances in two years.
“It would be nice to know earlier so we can prepare correctly,” Gower said. “In saying that, when they decide to tell us we’ll just have to deal with it.”
Gower was the NSW Cup player of the year in 2009, and has been a mainstay in the reserve-grade team of the year in recent seasons.
After switching to Manly following the recommendation of Illawarra Cutters coach Paul McGregor, Gower has managed just 11 top-grade appearances this year.
While Gower is uncertain about Sunday, his long-term future is clouded, too. He is off-contract at the end of this year and unlikely to extend his one-season at the Sea Eagles.
“I know you can’t stay where you want to sometimes,” Gower said. “The club are in a tough situation financially. It’s looking tough to stay.
“It’s just been the way I’ve had it. If I get to play in a grand final, hopefully there are a few clubs watching and I can contribute to a win.”
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