A surprise choice by Jake White to captain his maiden voyage as Brumbies coach last year, BEN MOWEN has turned the decision into a stroke of genius.
Not only has the move worked out splendidly for the Brumbies, it also paid dividends for the Wallabies.
In his second year as Brumbies captain, Mowen led the side to its first Super Rugby final since 2004, as they fell just short, 27-22, to the Chiefs.
Mowen also realized his long-held dream of representing Australia, earning his Test debut against the British & Irish Lions in June as one of just three Wallabies that played in every minute of the three-Test series (along with James Horwill and James O’Connor).
The 29-year-old loose forward was immense for the Wallabies against the Lions, calling the lineouts, while also monstering Lions’ scrumhalf Mike Phillips on more than one occasion in the first Test. Mowen also threw the last pass, under pressure, in the lead up to the second of Israel Folau’s two tries on debut.
Mowen has led the Brumbies astutely, combining smart tactical decision-making with a whole hearted on-field effort. He continued in this vein in 2013, adding a more direct and physical approach to his own game, resulting in a call up to the Test arena.
His success as a leader is no surprise, with previous captaincy experience at the Queensland Under-19 level, the Junior Waratahs and the Australian Under-21 side that finished second at the 2005 world championships.
Brisbane-born, and educated at Villanova College, Mowen was initially with the Brisbane Easts club and graduated through the ranks at the Reds, leading the state’s Under-19 group before he broke into the senior side in 2006. This led to a Super Rugby debut against the Sharks that season, but it proved to be his only Super Rugby experience as a Red, with his other six appearances for the state all being in non-competition matches.
Moving south of the border to try and change his fortune, Mowen settled at the famous Randwick club in Sydney’s East, but had to wait 12 months before he broke into the Waratahs Super Rugby picture.
His first efforts on the New South Wales scene in 2008 saw Mowen help Randwick to that year’s Shute Shield final (losing to Sydney University). He was then selected, and led the Junior Waratahs on the two-game development tour of Fiji which followed the conclusion of the club season. The experience with the Junior Waratahs helped to open the ‘senior’ door a year later. That still left him competing with the likes of Phil Waugh and Wycliff Palu for an opening.
It was the departure of Rocky Elsom for a season with Leinster in 2009 that created a vacancy for Mowen to gain benefit from. Even though he always faced strong competition for a starting spot due to the depth of talent available, he remained part of the Super Rugby team for three seasons, compiling a respectable record in the process.
FAST FACT: Ben Mowen is one of three internationals in his family, as both his sisters, Justine and Jordan are former Australian volleyball reps.