RYAN BOWER finally achieved a landmark appearance when he came on as a second-half replacement in Leicester’s morale-boosting 38-15 win over Gloucester last weekend.
Almost ten years to the day since first pulling on a Tigers jersey in the Premiership on November 27, 2010, the 29-year-old prop at long last made his 50th top flight appearance.
It is a half-century that cricketer Dominic Sibley would have been proud of in terms of its obduracy, and one Bower feared would never come due to Covid-19 and job cuts.
Only five players – Calum Black, Kevin Barrett, Dave Ward, Boris Stankovich and Tim Visser – have taken longer to get to the half-ton.
Bower told The Rugby Paper: “When Covid hit, everyone’s money shrunk massively, and everyone’s financial belt got tightened so it meant contracts were very hard to come by.
“Fortunately, I got lucky and there was a place that needed filling here.”
All but five of Bower’s 50 top flight appearances came during his six seasons at Worcester, but other than the 2017/18 season, when he played the bulk of his games, he was never considered first-choice.
Once the 2019/20 ended abruptly, Worcester let him go. Bower proactively went about finding alternative career paths just in case the phone never rang.
Fortunately, his old club Leicester got in touch.
“During (the first) lockdown, the RPA gave quite a lot of courses and I jumped on as many Zoom calls as I could,” he said.
“I went through the Open University and I finished that this year, and I’ve been doing my coaching qualifications.
“I’ve just finished my Level 3, and I’ll try and get into either coaching or teaching (when I finish).”
Other than having his name on the list of former John Cleveland College alumni, an honest hard-working pro like Bower rarely gets bracketed in the same company of the likes of Tigers legends Dean Richards and Manu Tuilagi.
But his passion for the club burns just as brightly as anyone’s.
“It’s a dream to play for a club you’ve always looked up to and wanted to play for so to get the opportunity to get back to where I started is very special,” he said.