Craig Gower (born 29 April 1978) is a former professional rugby league
and rugby union footballer of the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s. He is a
dual-code rugby international, having played rugby league for
Australia, and rugby union for Italy. A New South Wales State of
Origin and Australian Kangaroos representative halfback or hooker, he
played in the
National Rugby League
National Rugby League for Sydney club Penrith Panthers
(whom he captained to victory in the 2003
NRL Premiership). Gower then
switched rugby union, playing for French
Top 14 side Bayonne, and
through grandparentage represented Italy. He returned to rugby league
London Broncos of
Super League and then finished his playing
career with one more
National Rugby League
National Rugby League season at the Newcastle
Rugby league career
Rugby union career
1.3 Return to rugby league
3 External links
Gower was born in Penrith, New South Wales, Australia. He is of
Gower played his junior football for the
Colyton Colts before being
signed by the Penrith Panthers.
Rugby league career
In Round 11 of the
1996 ARL season Gower made his ARL début for the
Panthers against the Gold Coast Chargers. Gower made his
representative début in his second season in first-grade when still
aged only eighteen. He was selected in the Australian Super League
side for the
ANZAC Test against New Zealand in 1997. He appeared in
Super League Tests against New Zealand and made the end of year
Super League tour to Great Britain, playing in all three Tests in
England at halfback. Following the re-unification of Australian rugby
league, Gower debuted for New South Wales in the 1999 State of Origin
series. He was selected for the
ANZAC Test that year but was dismissed
following a disciplinary incident. However he was selected for the
Australian team to compete in the end of season 1999 Rugby League
Tri-Nations tournament. In the final against New Zealand he played at
hooker in the Kangaroos' 22–20 victory.
In 2000, Gower won the Hooker of the Year award at the 2000 Dally M
Awards. In 2002, Gower debuted for the City Origin team in the annual
City vs Country Origin
City vs Country Origin clash. Between 2002 and 2005, Gower captained
the Panthers, the highlight of which was the 2003
NRL Grand Final
victory over the Sydney Roosters. After that Gower was selected to go
on the 2003 Kangaroo tour. As 2003
NRL premiers, the Panthers
England to face
Super League VIII champions, the Bradford
Bulls in the 2004 World Club Challenge. Gower captained the Panthers
at half back in their 22–4 loss. Gower was named Australia's
captain for the Test match against France on the 2005 Tri-Nations
tour. Gower became the second
Penrith Panthers player to captain
his country, after
Brad Fittler in 1995.
In 2006, Gower married
Penrith Panthers cheerleader Amanda Flynn. In
2007, Gower's last year at the Panthers, he ended the season with 238
career matches for the Panthers, four games short of the club record
of 242 held by Steve Carter.
Rugby union career
On 26 June 2007, Gower switched codes by signing with French Top 14
rugby union side Bayonne, having two years still to run on his
contract at the Panthers.
In 2008, Gower expressed his desire to play rugby union for Italy. He
qualified for the 'Azzurri' due to his Italian grandfather. On 13 June
2009, Gower made his first appearance for Italy at fly-half against
Australia after being selected for the mid-season tour of Australia
and New Zealand. Italy coach
Nick Mallett had initial reservations
about selecting Gower after reading about his past alcohol-related
misdemeanours in Gower's article.
Return to rugby league
Following the expiry of his union contract, Gower returned to rugby
league, signing a 2-year contract with the
London Broncos of the
Super League starting in 2012.
As a result, he did not feature in Italy's 2011 Rugby World Cup
campaign, and was instead selected in the Italy rugby league squad for
2013 Rugby League World Cup qualifying tournament, although he
missed all three matches due to injury. On 14 November 2012, Gower
extended his Broncos contract by a year, making him a Bronco until the
end of 2014. He was then named captain, although he stood down
as captain in May.
In June 2013, Gower gained a release from his Broncos contract to
Australia and negotiate a contract with National Rugby
League club Newcastle Knights. On 8 June 2013, Gower signed a
contract with the Knights for the remainder of the 2013 NRL
Gower was named in the Italy squad for the 2013 Rugby League World
Cup. However he did not play due to the injury he suffered at the
end of the 2013
At the end of the 2013
NRL season, Gower announced his retirement due
On 25 June 2016, Gower was inducted into the
Penrith Panthers hall of
fame alongside Grahame Moran,
Royce Simmons and Greg Alexander.
Gower has been involved in a number of alcohol-related off-field
incidents. In 1999, Gower exposed himself to a female Irish tourist in
a Coogee bar, blaming his behaviour on alcohol intoxication. He was
dumped from the Kangaroos squad and fined A$2,500 by the
NRL and a
further A$500 in court after pleading guilty to indecent exposure.
In December 2005, Gower was fired as Panthers captain after
incidents at a charity golf event where he argued with several guests,
groped the teenage daughter of former league player Wayne Pearce,
Mitchell Pearce with a bottle before vomiting on him, streaked
nude around the resort, stole and crashed a golf cart, held a butter
knife to the throat of a Sydney radio personality before throwing
it at resort guests, and engaged in a brawl with resort security
before being ejected from the official function and detained by
police. He was handed a "final warning" by the National Rugby
League and fined A$100,000, with A$90,000 to be paid to an NRL
programme encouraging the responsible use of alcohol by league players
and $10,000 to replace the destroyed golf cart. Gower was "deeply
unhappy" that the
Penrith Panthers club did not defend his reputation,
and at one stage threatened to "walk" from the club.
Allegedly inebriated with alcohol in a bar at Kings Cross on 11
February 2007, Gower allegedly tried to kiss one man before biting him
on the neck and sparking a brawl, and is accused of assaulting another
man. The Panthers club controversially reappointed Gower as
captain in 2007, claiming the Peppermint Lounge incident was just a
media "beat-up". Australian swimmer
Dawn Fraser said Gower was
unfit to be captain, due to his alleged lewd behaviour at the charity
golf event which she attended, and Sarah Maddison, spokesperson
for the Women's Electoral Lobby, said "reappointing
Craig Gower would
send all the wrong messages."
Craig Gower - Career Stats & Summary". Rugby League Project.
^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 September 2011.
Retrieved 11 June 2009.
^ "Rugby-League.Com". Superleague.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-03-27.
Craig Gower Rugby Union Players and Officials ESPN Scrum".
Scrum.com. Retrieved 2016-03-27.
^ "Rugby - Fiche joueur Gower Craig - Statistiques en club".
Itsrugby.fr. 1978-04-29. Retrieved 2016-03-27.
^ "Rugby Union Australian Gower lands Italy call". BBC News. 18 May
2009. Retrieved 14 February 2010.
^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 September 2013.
Retrieved 5 June 2013.
^ Annual Report 2005 Archived 5 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine. –
Australian Rugby League
^ "Aussie Gower set to switch codes". BBC. 26 June 2007. Retrieved 26
^ "French rugby my biggest challenge: Gower". NRL. 26 June 2007.
Retrieved 26 June 2007. [permanent dead link]
^ Italy eyes Gower, warts and all[permanent dead link],
rugbyheaven.com.au, 9 September 2008.
Craig Gower to play league in UK". The Sydney Morning Herald. 10
^ Profile[permanent dead link], league.quins.co.uk; accessed 27 May
^ Gower extends his Broncos contract, londonbroncosrl.com; accessed 27
^ Gower named captain of Broncos, londonbroncosrl.com; accessed 27 May
^ Gower stands down as
London skipper Archived 19 September 2013 at
the Wayback Machine., rleague.com; accessed 27 May 2015.
^ Gower joins Newcastle Knights, londonbroncosrl.com; accessed 27 May
Craig Gower joins the Knights Archived 5 October 2013 at the Wayback
Machine., newcastleknights.com.au; accessed 27 May 2015.
^ "Rugby League World Cup 2013". Rlwc2013.com. Retrieved
Craig Gower and Bryce Gibbs expected to hang up the boots". The
Sydney Morning Herald. 24 October 2014. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
^ "Gower incident gives League image another beating", abc.net.au, 21
^ "Gower demoted after drunken binge". BBC News. 4 January 2006.
Retrieved 10 August 2007.
^ Gallagher, Brendan (12 February 2010). "Six Nations 2010: Craig
Gower making the most of fresh start with Italy". London, UK:
Telegraph. Retrieved 14 February 2010.
NRL wants probe into Gower grope claims". The Age. Melbourne. 22
December 2005. Retrieved 10 August 2007.
NRL gives Gower final warning and A$100,000 fine". The New Zealand
Herald. 23 January 2006. Retrieved 10 August 2007.
^ Prichard, Greg (6 February 2006). "Gower's ultimatum: defend me or
I'll walk". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 10 August 2007.
^ Pandaram, Jamie (23 March 2007). "Police set to charge Gower". The
Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 27 September
2007. Retrieved 10 August 2007.
^ Masters, Roy (13 February 2007). "Time for Craig to face demons".
The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 10 August 2007.
^ "Enough is enough". The Daily Telegraph. 17 February 2007. Archived
from the original on 24 September 2008. Retrieved 10 August
^ Clark, Laine (3 January 2007). "Gower 'shouldn't be captain'". Fox
^ Phelps, James (5 January 2007). "Leave Craig alone". The Daily
Telegraph. Retrieved 10 August 2007.
Newcastle Knights profile
London Broncos profile
Australian national rugby league captain
Penrith Panthers squad – 2003
NRL Premiers (2nd title)
1 Rhys Wesser
2 Luke Lewis
3 Ryan Girdler
4 Paul Whatuira
5 Luke Rooney
6 Preston Campbell
Craig Gower (c)
8 Joel Clinton
9 Luke Priddis
10 Martin Lang
11 Joe Galuvao
12 Tony Puletua
13 Scott Sattler
14 Ben Ross
15 Trent Waterhouse
16 Shane Rodney
17 Luke Swain
Coach: John Lang
Australia squad – 2000 World Cup final winners (9th Title)
1 Darren Lockyer
2 Mat Rogers
3 Adam MacDougall
4 Matt Gidley
5 Wendell Sailor
Brad Fittler (c)
7 Brett Kimmorley
8 Shane Webcke
9 Andrew Johns
10 Robbie Kearns
11 Gorden Tallis
12 Bryan Fletcher
13 Scott Hill
14 Trent Barrett
15 Nathan Hindmarsh
16 Darren Britt
17 Jason Stevens
Coach: Chris Anderson
2000 wider squad:
Jason Croker •
Matthew Gidley •
Ryan Girdler •
Craig Gower • Ben Kennedy • Michael Vella
2003 Kangaroo Tour
2003 Kangaroo Tour squad
Darren Lockyer (c)
Michael De Vere
Coach: Chris Anderson
Australia squad – 2004 Rugby League Tri Nations
Australia squad – 2005 Rugby League Tri Nations
Penrith Panthers' Team of Legends – 40 Year Legend Team
13 van der Voort
Established 1980 in London, England
International representative players
Crystal Palace National Sports Centre
Chiswick Polytechnic Sports Ground
Trailfinders Sports Ground
Hall of Fame
Rugby Football League Championship Second Division Champions
Super League II runners-up
1999 Challenge Cup runners-up
Tony Currie (1996–1998)
Dan Stains (1999)
Tony Rea /
Les Kiss (1999)
John Monie (2000)
Tony Rea (2000–2006)
Brian McDermott (2006-2010)
Rob Powell (2011-2012)
Tony Rea (2012-2014)
Joey Grima (2014-2015)
Andrew Henderson (2015-2017)
Danny Ward (2018-)
Mark McLinden (2005)
Rob Purdham (2006–2011)
Craig Gower (2012-2013)
Tony Clubb (2013)
Antonio Kaufusi (2013)
Matt Cook (2014)
Richard Mathers (2015)
Nick Slyney (2015)
Wes Naiqama (2016)
Daniel Harrison (2017)
Jay Pitts (2018-)
Super League Founding Member