A common theme that ran through the Cowboys’ core forwards in 2017 was that players stepped up in a year where the team was a bit lighter on in that position than in years past.
The off-season move to Penrith of 2015 premiership-winning bookend James Tamou plus the late injury-enforced retirement of Ben Hannant – who was originally signed to play in 2017 – thrust Bolton into the spotlight as one of the team’s forward leaders.
This responsibility was magnified further following a season-ending knee injury in Round 2 of long-time front row partner Matt Scott.
The veteran No. 10 didn’t disappoint in his 11th NRL season, starting in all 27 matches with great effect, the 30-year-old averaging 30 more running metres and eight more tackles per match than he did in 2016.
At season’s end, it was revealed that the Innisfail product played a large portion of the season with a significant sternum injury which required pain-reducing injections before each match.
Naturally quietly spoken and preferring to let his footy do the talking, Bolton was handed the captaincy reins in Round 15 against the Storm.
Average runs: 14
Average run metres: 132
Average tackles: 31
Try assists: 5
Off-field: Bolton was jointly awarded – with Ray Thompson – the 2017 Club Person of the Year award and became Cowboys Life Member #8.