What could be harder than being a front-rower for the Wallabies? How about going undercover with the Queensland Police to break up drug rings on the Gold Coast? Amazingly, Dan Crowley balanced both these jobs for several years without ever being recognised by the law-breakers he chased.
Dan’s experiences in his 11-year career with the Queensland Police – though not all undercover – is the topic of his book, “Undercover Prop”.
Dan started his rugby career in an under-8’s competition when his mates told him, "You're fat, slow and have no skills. You'll make a terrific prop." He played cricket and volleyball as well, but rugby union was always his favourite sport. His first career high-point happened in 1986 when Souths won their first A-Grade title in 28 years.
Though Dan loved rugby, he didn’t want to limit his pursuits to sport only. He decided to join the Queensland Police force just like his brother Michael did. He was drawn to undercover work because his brother Martin was a meth addict and struggle with bipolar disorder. The Cowley brothers have a saying from their youth: "Michael did things wrong and got away with it. Martin did things wrong and always got caught. Dan did things wrong and confessed."
There was a time when Dan considered switching from rugby to league because one of his police academy instructors was Brisbane Broncos and Queensland coach Wayne Bennett. The league coach tried to lure Dan away from rugby, but to no avail. " Bennett's deputy Bill Turner was a Scot and he convinced me to stick with union," Dan recalls. "I do wonder what might have happened if Wayne had won.”
Dan's career as an undercover police officer meant he had to change his appearance often. He often sported facial hair and had his GP give him fake track marks by pricking his arm with a needle.
Dan's international rugby career featured many proud moments, including three World Cups; one of them a victory against France at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Dan also fondly remembers his first test against the touring British Lions in Brisbane in 1989, a successful one that he’ll never forget.. "My team-mates were Steve Cutler, Nick Farr-Jones, Michael Lynagh and David Campese. We steamrolled the Lions 30-12," he says. Dan pulled on the Queensland Reds jersey 125 times and has also been on the board of Queensland Rugby Union.
In 2003 Dan made his television debut as part of the Seven Network's rugby commentary team. He was widely praised for his insightful analysis and sometimes humorous comments throughout the season, culminating with the Seven Network’s Rugby World Cup coverage.
Dan’s colorful career has made him a sought-after keynote speaker and guest speaker for company conventions, sport conferences and media symposiums.