May 05, 2021
Fijian Crusaders prop George Bower has stamped his mark in Super rugby and is likely to earn an All Blacks call-up this season.
Bower’s responsibility has increased since Joe Moody’s season-ending foot injury last month reports Stuff.co.nz.
Coach Scott Robertson had no idea who George Bower was when forwards coach Jason Ryan told him he wanted to bring the prop into the Crusaders ahead of the 2019 season.
“Who?” was head coach Robertson’s response.
The Lower-Hutt-schooled Otago prop had caught Ryan’s eye at NPC level, predicting he had the potential to help bolster their front-row stocks.
Predominantly a backup through his first two and a half seasons with the Christchurch-based franchise, Bower’s importance to the Crusaders has never been greater.
Bower will start the final against the Chiefs in Christchurch on Saturday, the 28-year-old’s third consecutive run-on since Moody busted his foot against the Hurricanes last month.
“He's really made the most of his opportunity...it's pretty special for him to go on and have higher honours potentially. He fronts in games like this, finals, that's when the All Blacks selectors will be really looking at it. Really happy with how he's gone, he's leaving his mark well there,” Ryan said.
Bower, who can play both sides of the scrum, spent time with the All Blacks last year but didn’t earn a cap, instead of spending ample time in the gym and adding 7kg to his frame.
Weighing 118kg took some adjusting to start the 2021 season, but Bower is comfortable in his skin as he prepares for the most important game of his career.
Bower, a late bloomer who was once paid $150 to act as an All Black for a jersey shoot in Dunedin, will have his work cut out on Saturday against a forward pack operating at an unrecognisable level from the one which last played at Orangetheory Stadium.
While Bower is certain to start, whether rookie Tamaiti Williams or Isi Tuungafasi provides cover off the bench is another story.
By Romeka Romena