Connor Bower: Friends, Laughs, Memories.
For a rugby-mad city like Hull, there is no shortage of quality homegrown talent, who are passionate about the 13-man code. Local lad Connor Bower, 21, ticked all the right boxes, having signed with his boyhood club Hull FC as a 14 year old. Let down by the absence of a reserve league and heavy competition amongst the first team ranks; the talented centre recently signed with League 1 outfit Doncaster, but is positive about the move and sees it as an opportunity to showcase his potential with a move back to the super-league his long-term goal. I recently caught up with Connor to discuss his grassroots story and life on and off the pitch.
1. What’s your earliest Rugby memory?
" I remember being a 6 year old lad going to watch Hull FC against Bradford at KC when Jason Smith got in a fight! I think it was my first game, but can still remember being sat in the south stand with my old man! Other than that, playing on my trampoline with my older brother and his mates".
2. Where did you play your amateur rugby and how did you get picked up by Hull FC?
"I started off playing at Hull Wyke when I was 14 which was where I got selected for the Hull FC scholarship by Mel Harmen, we had a good team at Wyke with the likes of Liam Harris & Kieran Moran to name a few! Then I moved onto Skirlaugh for a year before going full time with Hull FC when I turned 16/17".
3. Do you have any guilty pleasures?
"I love a pick & mix! Probably spend half my wages on a big bag! I’d also say a weird thing I do is get a hair cut every week if that counts? I'm also mad for a Netflix series! Stranger Things and The Killing have been two good watches!"
4. Who is the funniest player you’ve played with and why?
"I’d probably say Brad Parker back at Hull FC Academy, every day at training we’d have to sprint back to the changing rooms after training as Brad would be in there hiding stuff and causing havoc! But whilst playing for an example, we’d be in a scrum and he’d let off a massive fart and have both teams creasing! He always knew how to have a laugh! Somehow though, he always managed to get away with it though, probably because as he was such a top player and nobody ever dared to say anything!"
5. How has your daily routines changed since joining Doncaster?
" At first it was strange going from training full-time to having to find a job and keep busy! But luckily the Hull FC foundation offered me a coaching role in the community which I’m really enjoying. Then on a Monday & Wednesday evening and Saturday morning I’ll be down at Doncaster training with the lads. It’s made the transition much easier with the likes of Ross Osborne, Jordan Lane, Jez Litten and Jack Sanderson all being down there as-well, as I’ve played with them for 5 or 6 years now! But I’m really enjoying it! "
6. What are your goals for 2018?
"My main goal is to just enjoy playing regular rugby again. Coming from a environment were all you did was train and play the odd game once every 4 months was really difficult! Whereas now, the consistency of games can help you string a good run together, and start to plan where I’d want to be a year from now. In an ideal world back at Hull FC, but the main aim is to help push Doncaster for promotion".
7. You’re still heavily involved in the Hull FC foundation and you were a part of the Hull Schools select coaching staff when they played the Ozzies last year, what motivates you to get involved in Grassroots rugby?
"As a kid, the ambition and desire to want to impress any coach was always in abundance for me growing up! And seeing kids showing off and really trying to impress is something that’s great to see! Especially down at grassroots level; young kids trying to copy what the first team blokes are doing is a brilliant way of seeing kids develop, but also it’s a rewarding feeling to help coach kids who really want to do well".
8. A number of Pro’s have welcomed the rumours of Eddie Hearn taking a leading role in the RFL. What do you think Rugby League is missing?
"I think having a successful individual like Eddie Hearn in Rugby League can only be positive. I think the importance of having someone with a bigger voice and the capability to deliver what’s needed can only be successful for the sport. Along with hopefully more money being put into the game and most importantly resulting in a reserves competition being created! I still think it should be compulsory for super league clubs to have a reserves team, regardless of money, that shouldn’t be an issue. If a club isn’t willing to form a reserves grade team then some sort of punishment should be given. But any change to the game I’m sure can only be good".
9. How would you sum up the best thing Rugby has given you?
"Friends, Laughs & memories.
From playing rugby I’ve met the greatest set of lads and probably my closet friends! Along with endless memories and having a laugh and unimaginable banter getting thrown about! But I wouldn’t change any of it!"
Thank you for taking the time out to speak to us Connor! All the best with your playing career!