He’s played State of Origin for Queensland, captained the North Queensland Cowboys in the NRL and won a coveted Man of Steel award with his beloved Castleford Tigers in UK.

While immensely proud of his elite level achievements, Vowles gets his biggest rugby league thrill from an annual event held in a small Queensland community eight hours west of Brisbane.

Cameras and bright lights are few and far between – but Vowles wouldn’t have it any other way.

Now in its third year, the ‘Outback Insulation’ Adrian Vowles Cup will be held at the Charleville Showgrounds this Saturday.

From humble beginnings, the Cup has grown from three Under 14 teams in 2014 to six Under 14 teams this year.

Throw in the addition of five Under 16 teams this year as well as a women’s game between the Maranoa Magic and Charleville, and it’s clear to see the Cup is kicking some very big goals. 

Teams from Charleville, Central West, Roma, Miles, Chinchilla, Brisbane Easts, Wallumbilla and Jandowe/Wandoan will compete this weekend.

Outback Insulation have come on board as naming rights sponsor thanks to the vision of owner Craig Rodgers, a former Roma and Charleville resident and current coach of the Gators.

Murweh Shire Council, Charleville RSL, NRL Game Development and the Charleville JRL are right behind the initiative as well.

Vowles and his good mate, local league fan Shaun “Zoro” Radnedge, will both be grinning from ear to ear when they watch the junior players take the field on Saturday.

Several years ago, the duo got together and discussed the idea of bringing other towns to Charleville to play in a carnival-type atmosphere. 

“It has always been about taking small steps and growing it each year and getting everyone to buy into the concept,” Vowles said.

“We hope to keep making it bigger each year and have teams from different regions like Brisbane Easts coming out and experiencing the country air and country hospitality.

“We have so much support from not only the people of Charleville but many of the hard working rugby league volunteers and parents from the other towns.

“City people don’t understand how far some of these kids have to travel just to play rugby league. It is important these kids in the bush get to play as much rugby league as they can because the game needs to be kept alive so that they have a pathway to not only play for their local A Grade side, but to get to the Intrust Super Cup or NRL if they have the ability and wish to do so.”

Vowles has many fond memories of his time playing bush footy.

“Shaun and I played together as kids and it brought us so much enjoyment and we are now putting something back into the game out there that gave us so much,” he said.

“Without rugby league in the bush I don’t get to play NRL or State of Origin. In 2016 we will be picking a team of the carnival for both the Under 14 and Under 16 competitions and those players will get a specially designed Adrian Vowles Cup jersey, designed by Ian Cook at Triple Play, with their respective number on it.”

The jersey carries the colours of Vowles’s former clubs the Cunnamulla Rams (blue & white), Allwhites RLFC (red & white), Railways RLFC (red & green) and Charleville (sky blue). Vowles learnt to play rugby league at the Cunnamulla Rams before moving to Charleville at the age of 11 and playing for both local clubs and also the Charleville rep side.

“Every club I played at I learnt so much as a kid and I cannot thank the coaches I had and the players I played beside enough for the part they played in my rugby league journey,” he said.

Previous winners of the AV Cup have been Miles (2014) and Roma (2015).