NRL 1 year ago

Cooper emerges as Maroons choice

  • Cooper emerges as Maroons choice

    GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - JULY 07: Gavin Cooper speaks at a press conference after a Queensland Maroons State of Origin training session at Sanctuary Cove on July 7, 2016 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Don't think for a second it slipped by his North Queensland teammates when Gavin Cooper earned an emerging State of Origin selection.

At 29, the back-rower was one of the oldest players chosen in January last year for the emerging camp.

"We had a couple of cracks at him," Maroons prop and Cowboys teammate Matt Scott said.

"We had, I think, the first 30-year-old emerging player.

"It was very light-hearted and we all know that it's probably unlucky more than anything that he hasn't got his opportunity before now."

Cooper, however, has had the last laugh.

Josh Papalii's injury-enforced absence has opened a door that Cooper thought might have been closed, with coach Kevin Walters selecting him to make his Origin debut on Wednesday night against NSW in Sydney.

Don't think Cooper has forgotten the jibes about his emerging player selection either.

"I wasn't the oldest one in the camp, so I was happy about that," he fired back.

"It just goes to show if they think you're the right man for the job, it really doesn't matter about age.

"This team has proven time and time again it's just a number.

"The experience that these guys have got with a lot of players over 30 Origins - JT has played 36 in a row, Smithy (Cameron Smith) has the record, GI (Greg Inglis) is about to play his 30th and Nate (Myles) is there as well - just the bond and culture that has been built up here over a long time.

"I've only experienced it a couple of times now but you feel it straight away and it's something I am grateful to be part of and will never forget."

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