Bennett’s first recruit opens up on Sydney switch
Ethan Lowe has been adding a new tattoo to his body every off-season since he was 21.
That tradition came to a halt over the most recent break.
But that wasn't the only change for Lowe during the summer.
As soon as he arrived back for his seventh pre-season with North Queensland in November, he knew something was seriously amiss.
"I just sort of got a feeling that I wasn't in the plans long term. It was a vibe from how last year ended and how pre-season was going. I felt, I guess, I was a bit on the outer," he said.
The first sign of trouble for Lowe came in March last year when the Goondiwindi Boars junior was relegated to the bench and his minutes started to slowly decrease.
By June, the back-rower was dropped to reserve grade by coach Paul Green. He was recalled for the last three rounds of the season.
"I probably wasn't playing the footy I wanted to play but I think there were a few other factors involved as well. It was a combination of a few things," he said.
Lowe still had a year left on his contract but was facing the possibility of the Queensland Cup in 2019, having slipped down the pecking order for a starting spot behind Coen Hess and Gavin Cooper.
Unbeknown to the 2015 premiership winner, new South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett was keeping tabs on his situation in Townsville.
And after a phone call in February, Lowe was released from the remainder of his deal at the Cowboys and the 28-year old became Bennett's first recruit as Rabbitohs coach.
"I have known Wayne and our assistant coach Jason Demetriou … they said there was an opportunity for me down here if I wanted to try and I jumped to that chance," he said.
The departure of Angus Crichton to join archrivals the Sydney Roosters left a void in the Rabbitohs back row.
Bennett has opted to shift Sam Burgess from lock on to the right edge vacated by Crichton and to start young gun Cameron Murray in the middle.
This means Lowe has been coming off the bench but even that is a better prospect than what he was facing in Townsville.
"I was trying to figure out where I was going be up there and this opportunity to come here came up," he said.
"I had to sit down and have a good look at where my footy was going to be in Townsville and where it might be here in Redfern. I had to do what's best for me."
New teammate Burgess believes the hardworking back-rower is the perfect addition to bolster South Sydney's forward stocks after losing Crichton.
"He's a 100 plus-gamer and he's won a grand final so he brings a lot of experience," Burgess said.
"He's been doing a great job off the bench and he can play on the left or right. He's versatile."