Cooper praises Storm skipper
IS Cameron Smith ( greatest of all time)?
His Queensland teammate Gavin Cooper believes the Melbourne Storm hooker is building a compelling case before North Queensland hosts the premiership favourites on Friday night.
Twice in Maroons camp this year the Cowboys stand- in captain has had the privilege of watching Storm stars Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater pull a rival team apart up close.
It’s why he knows the Cowboys will have to lift significantly after their flaws were exposed by the Roosters in the second half of last week’s 22- 16 loss.
“It’s exactly what I expected and to get a chance to play with them in that Origin team was an eye opener to see how they train and game plan,” Cooper said.
“They’re very professional in what they do and it shows on the field. Smithy is now at 350 games, he’s one of the best, if not the best that’s ever played I think and to try and stop him completely, I think you’re kidding yourself.
“You’ve got to slow him down and limit his opportunities across the park.”
Defence will be a major focus for the Cowboys this week after they failed to handle the Roosters in the second half.
“For one half of footy we were pretty clinical with the ball but in the second half we didn’t get too much of a chance to do much with it,” Cooper said.
“We showed in the first half we could match it with a team at the top the GOAT of the ladder but in the second half when they really rolled their sleeves up, we couldn’t go with them.
“They ( Melbourne) have got some trick plays that have pulled some very good defensive teams apart and if we consider ourselves one of those good defensive teams, we’ve got to be on.
“The level of footy they’re playing is a good level above everyone else so it will be a massive test.”
The Storm will be without fiveeighth Cameron Munster who has failed to prove his fitness after hurting his ankle in Sunday’s 40- 6 win over Manly.
The Cowboys are fifth and only outside the top four on for and against, but could finish the round just two points ahead of ninth if they can’t upset the Storm.
“They’ve been pretty blessed for a long time where they’ve had a very stable 1- 6- 7- 9 ( combination),” Cooper said.
“Even when Bill ( Slater) was out for a long period of time they had a stable No. 1 there. Not taking anything against the forwards, they’ve got some international forwards and some guys who just do their role, and do it very well.”