SHARKS’ SCARE

Cooper be­lieves shock loss could start new streak

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - LIAM BUT­TER­WORTH liam. but­ter­worth@ news. com. au

STAND- IN Cow­boys skip­per Gav Gavin Cooper says the win­ning streak shat­ter­ing loss to Cro Cronulla last week could turn out to be a bless­ing in dis­guise.

A As North Queens­land goes dow down to face St Ge­orge- Illawarr warra with­out their State of Orig Ori­gin quar­tet this evening, Coo Cooper said the Cow­boys play­ers w were keen to make amends for giv­ing up an 18- point lead last week. De­spite a win­ning streak that lasted 89 days and 11 matches, Cooper said the play­ers had talked in­ter­nally be­fore the Sharks game about the im­por­tance of putting to­gether a whole 80 min­utes.

It’s prob­a­bly bet­ter to have that kind of loss in June rather than Septem­ber and Cooper said they would be re­solved to make sure it didn’t hap­pen again.

“The funny thing is, we had only spo­ken about it a few days ear­lier, talk­ing about mak­ing sure we’re on the job no mat­ter who we’re play­ing,” he said.

“Hope­fully it’s a bless­ing in dis­guise. I don’t see it as that yet, but hope­fully it is. ( It’s a les­son in) not to get com­pla­cent in any­thing we do. We know we played well for the first 30 min­utes.

“Even the last 10 in the first half wasn’t that flash ei­ther.

“What we did in that sec­ond half of last week, we had showed glimpses of that in the past weeks and it came back to bite us on the butt a lit­tle bit.

“I think com­ing up against a team that’s there or there­abouts in the top- four this week is go­ing to be a re­ally big test.”

The Cow­boys will fea­ture their fifth halves com­bi­na­tion in 16 games and are the only club in the NRL to lose both their first choice halves and props to State of Ori­gin.

But Cooper said there was no pres­sure on halves Robert Lui and Ray Thomp­son and props Ben Han­nant and Sam Hoare to go out and di­rectly re­place the in­ter­state match quar­tet.

“We know we’re not go­ing to re­place Johnno, Matty, Jimmy and Morgo, so it’s just about ev­ery­one com­ing in and play­ing the way we play,” Cooper said. “They are big pair­ings we’ve lost, our start­ing halves and front row­ers and they’re big shoes to fill.”

Pic­ture: WES­LEY MONTS

Cow­boys stand- in skip­per Gavin Cooper.

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