FAIR DEAL: Cowboys veteran Matt Bowen deserves to be shown some respect after a stellar career.
FAIR DEAL: Cowboys veteran Matt Bowen deserves to be shown some respect after a stellar career. GETTY IMAGES

Keep SBW for sure, what about Mango?

NO GENUINE rugby league fan would disagree with Roosters coach Trent Robinson that Sonny Bill Williams would be a huge loss to the game if he went back to rugby union next season.

Only the true believers, and the SBW rat pack, would not have been stunned by the manner in which Williams has adapted so quickly and efficiently to a game he has not played since midway through 2008.

Love him or loathe him, his smooth transition ranks among the highlights of season 2013.

And yes, the Roosters and the NRL hierarchy should do all in their power to keep him in the game.

The red tape that forced Israel Folau to flit to rugby union earlier in the year is self-defeating, and while salary cap guidelines need to be strict, common sense should also be a rider.

When decision-time arrives, the SBW issue will no doubt be yet another PR test case for the NRL.

Yet the most appalling salary cap predicament is the one facing the Cowboys, and their champion fullback Matt Bowen.

It is totally wrong, and embarrassing, that the club and its longest-serving player should be considering a split when neither party wants that to happen.

Speculation that Bowen (nicknamed Mango) has two games to prove his fitness or he will not be re-signed by the club is not just humiliating for the 31-year-old, it is a reflection on the archaic salary cap guidelines.

Bowen has been with the Cowboys since he left school. He has played 261 NRL games, more than any other Cowboys player; he holds the record for the most tries; and he is, without question, the most revered player in the club's 18-year history.

Yet he is seemingly faced with the possibility of either leaving or retiring unless he can prove himself in the next few weeks. Understandably, the Cowboys don't want to spend money on a player whose longevity is suspect, and Bowen is not prepared to play for unders.

But surely, after 14 seasons with the one club, Bowen and the Cowboys deserve some salary cap slack. And the solution is simple - whatever he earns in his next contract should be salary cap exempt.

Bowen deserves that recognition from the game he has served impeccably. After a long and distinguished career he should not be forced to leave a club, a city and a playing group that he loves.

Decider jackpot

QUEENSLANDERS were not happy when NSW was allocated two Origin games in this series, and while the decision has proved a bonanza for the bean counters, the odds are stacked against the Maroons for game three.

The decider at ANZ Stadium next Wednesday week is a sell-out, and although the upsized 84,000-seat capacity will be an Origin crowd record for a decider, the 88,336 who packed the same venue in 1999 remains top dog. Add the crowd from games one and two - 80,380 and 51,690 - to the expected capacity for game three, and this series will create an all-time Origin series crowd record.

But, despite the Maroons winning 10 and drawing two of the 16 deciders in Origin history - including a win and a draw in the three at ANZ Stadium - their overall record at the ground appears to be the major stumbling block to the eight-peat. Of the 20 Origin matches there, Queensland has won just five, one has been drawn and the Blues have been victorious 15 times.

But this is a very special bunch of Queenslanders and to them beating the odds is nothing new.

That was tough

If those rugby league diehards who still believe biff is an essential part of rugby league did not see the Warriors-Broncos game last weekend, they should do themselves a favour and chase down a replay.

It was a tough, no holds-barred, knock 'em down, drag 'em out contest that was still in the balance until the final siren. The skill level and commitment from both sides was absolutely outstanding. And, there was not a punch thrown and barely a sideways glance delivered.

The isolated violence witnessed in Origins I and II has not been about being tough and should never be accepted as part of the game.