Coen Hess has set his sights on being a North Queensland Cowboy for life and following in the footsteps of trailblazing club legend Paul Bowman.
The 22-year-old Maroons forward, who joined the Cowboys system when he was 15 and came through the club's elite pathways program, inked a three-year extension which will keep him at the club until the end of 2022.
The Mt Isa product has a deep appreciation of Cowboys history. Bowman, nicknamed 'Bear' and the first Cowboys player to notch 200 first grade games, works at the club as the head of sports science and has set an example Hess wants to emulate.
"I also have ambitions to be a one-club player," Hess said at a Cowboys signing session in Townsville on Monday.
"[Bowman] was a fantastic player and just walking around the club now Bear… has an aura about him. Everyone knows what he has done for the Cowboys and even in the community he is well respected
"That is what you play the game for, to do the fans proud while you are playing but then still have interaction with them in life after footy. He is one of the few kings of Townsville."
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Hess is already held in high esteem at the Cowboys. Bowman, who grew up three hours from Townsville in Proserpine and never left the Cowboys in a 203-game career, is one of Hess's biggest fans and said his re-signing was crucial for the club.
"That was probably the original charter of the Cowboys, to give local kids a go coming through, retain them and see them go on and play for Queensland like Hessy," Bowman told NRL.com
"Hessy has said that he wants to stay and be a one-club man because he can see what that can do for a player and the club."
Hess has already played 59 NRL games for the Cowboys where he has impressed with his attitude.
"Hessy is very humble, level-headed and with a good work ethic. He's got the qualities that are important if you want to continually get better and not rest on what you've done already," Bowman said.
"I know his father. He coaches my son at junior football so I know the quality of the family Coen comes from."
It is his physical attributes that sports scientist Bowman has been blown away by, so much so that Hess has acquired the nickname of the chief opponent of Rocky Balboa in the later Rocky films.
"In my role particularly we deal with the physical side of the players and from that perspective he is probably one of the best we've had come through here across the board – with strength, power, speed and conditioning – for someone his size," Bowman enthused.
"We've nicknamed him Ivan Drago… out of Rocky. He is the supreme athlete.
"He's got that part ticked so it is about the football, and he is doing well in that respect. That is where there is a lot of upside because he can always continue to improve that."
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Hess intends to do exactly that as he targets becoming a more consistent performer.
"I've got four years to cement myself in the team and continually improve," Hess said.
"I just think I need to find a bit more consistency and minimise the gap between a good and a bad performance."
"[The 2018 season] was pretty disappointing from a personal point of view. I don't think we lived up to the hype or the intentions we set ourselves."
While Hess is determined not to revisit the lows of 2018 he did say he appreciated how Bowman "rode the rollercoaster" by his side.
"You can still see the pride he has for the Cowboys," Hess said.
"He was right in it with us. He hurt as much as we did as players."