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

IN AN ideal world Gavin Cooper would be run­ning out for his 200th NRL game for the North Queens­land Cowboys tonight as a oneclub player.

The back­rower yesterday re­flected on how the Cowboys have be­come a “mas­sive” part of his life, long af­ter he was pre­sented his de­but jersey by club hall of fame mem­ber Paul Bow­man in Round 2, 2006 against Manly.

Cooper has gone on from the Young Guns pro­gram to play 123 games for North Queens­land for 39 tries, while also spend­ing two years at the Gold Coast Ti­tans and Pen­rith Pan­thers for 76 games.

Sim­i­lar to much of his ca­reer, Cooper’s 200th NRL game mile­stone has flown largely un­der the radar this week as the Cowboys pre­pare to meet Manly.

Cooper yesterday said play­ing 200 games was some­thing he would re­flect on in the fu­ture and the fact that most of that time has been spent at North Queens­land was even more spe­cial.

“It’s a mas­sive part of me, it’s a big part of my fam­ily now and ob­vi­ously my wife is from Innisfail and I met her when I was up here the first time,” Cooper said.

“When I first left to go to the Ti­tans, I al­ways said to my­self that if I was go­ing to go to any other club then I wanted to come back to Townsville. I nearly came back be­fore I went to Pen­rith, but I’ve found my way home, so to speak, af­ter a cou­ple of years in Pen­rith and I’m glad I did.

“You never know, you can’t change things and it’s not that I

I nearly came back be­fore I went to Pen­rith, but I’ve found my way home


would like to, but if I had have hung around then this could have been 200 games for one club.

“I’m just grate­ful my body has held out and there’s hope­fully a few more to go.”

Cooper is in some of the best form of his ca­reer hav­ing scored seven tries in 16 ap­pear­ances while also fill­ing in as cap­tain at the Auck­land Nines and when reg­u­lar co- cap­tains Matt Scott and Johnathan Thurston are away.

Coach Paul Green said Cooper’s con­tri­bu­tion to the club ex­tended far be­yond what most peo­ple see.

“Coops is one of those guys that the other ones in the team re­ally know how much he con­trib­utes to the team each week,” he said.

“He’s cer­tainly a pop­u­lar guy and he’s one of the team lead­ers and he’s a bit of an un­sung hero in our team.

“We all know what he does for us and how good he is for us.”

Prop Scott said the mile­stone was a won­der­ful achieve­ment for a player who flies un­der the radar.

“He’s been won­der­ful for us this year and one of our best and most con­sis­tent play­ers,” Scott said.

“I thought he was very un­lucky not to get a spot in the Ori­gin side and it’s a great achieve­ment for him and hope­fully we can go out and get a win.”

HAM­MER GOD: North Queens­land Cowboys’ Gavin Cooper in the Thor inspired uni­form.

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