'I don't want to play for anyone but Hull FC', says Josh Bowden
JOSH Bowden says he's not contemplating the thought of starting the season anywhere else but in the Hull FC team against Leeds.
The 20-year-old, who was handed a two-year contract last season after an impressive run of form in the first team, has set his sights firmly on regaining his place in Peter Gentle's line-up for the campaign opener.
Because of RFL rule changes, Bowden no longer qualifies to play for Hull's second-string under-19s side, making a dual registration deal at Hull feeder club York City Knights a distinct possibility.
But the emerging prop says he has no intention of starting 2013 with the Knights, and is confident he can impress in pre-season to make sure he's among Gentle's 17-man squad for the opener at Headingley.
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"I'm working hard and I'm aiming to be in the squad for the start of the season," Bowden told the Mail.
"I don't want to play anywhere but Hull FC. I want to be in the team at the start of the season, full-stop. I am not thinking of anything else except being in the squad at the start of the season. It's a big year for me and I'm planning on building on last season."
With competition from captain Andy Lynch, Mark O'Meley, Jay Pitts, Liam Watts, Chris Green and new signing Paul Johnson, Bowden knows he faces a stern challenge.
An unknown quantity just 12 months ago, Bowden impressed enough in pre-season last year to be taken on Hull's warm weather training camp to Tenerife.
A month later he was making his Super League debut at Salford off the bench.
Six further appearances saw the Beverley-born academy product establish himself as a first team player, with a new contract his reward for his efforts.
However, an ankle injury put paid to his campaign, with Gentle opting to have his young charge sent for surgery during the season despite the possibility of him being able to play on.
"It was really disappointing and I felt down about it at the time, having to have the surgery done," added Bowden.
"This year I want to go injury free and make sure I'm around all season. It was only a minor injury last season and I could have played on with it, but if I'd had the operation at the end of the season I'd still be doing rehab now.
"Pete wanted me to be training from day one and to have a big pre-season, so I understood his decision.
"I played seven games last season and it was a great year for me. Some of the times when I was in the team it was luck with things like Sam Moa getting a ban and Mark O'Meley being injured, but I was happy to get my chance.
"I got to play in some big Super League games and that's what I needed. I need Super League minutes under my belt to progress now."