Gavin Cooper will notch his 300th NRL this weekend.
Gavin Cooper will notch his 300th NRL this weekend.

From Mad Cow reveller to 300-game veteran

THE late scratching of Michael Morgan won't deter Cowboys ironman Gavin Cooper ahead of his 300th NRL game with the back-rower excited to take his place in rugby league history.

Morgan's second concussion in as many weeks hurts North Queensland's hopes of upsetting a near full-strength Sydney Roosters outfit in Gosford but that hasn't dulled Cooper's enthusiasm - or his sense of humour.

"It's a big occasion, I don't want to downplay it either," Cooper said of reaching 300 NRL games.

"The boys just said I'm only the 37th to do it and I know (Cam Smith) is going to break 400 this week as well and also Benji (Marshall) is getting 300 so it's a big milestone weekend for the NRL with a few feel-good stories there.

"It's good to have my name mentioned alongside those other guys but I think Smithy's blown us out of the ballpark."

The self-deprecating Cooper has been an NRL mainstay since debuting for the Cowboys back in 2006 before stints with Gold Coast and Penrith but the back-rower will go down as one of North Queensland's greats after winning a premiership in 2015 and skippering the 2017 grand finalists.

"I wouldn't change any of this story so far," Cooper said.

"(Moving) helped me grow, got me to see other parts of the world and grow up a little bit because if I was in Townsville (the whole time), I'd probably still be a kid with a rats tail out at the Mad Cow partying every third night so it gave me the chance to grow up and into the person I am now."

Gavin Cooper, Steve Southern, and that horrific rats tail. Picture: Evan Morgan
Gavin Cooper, Steve Southern, and that horrific rats tail. Picture: Evan Morgan

The Murgon product has been the poster-boy for consistency across his 14-year career and credits good fortune and better staff with his longevity.


"Bit of luck, there's always a bit of luck involved," Cooper said.

"Injuries play a part in most people's careers so I suppose it's how you bounce back from it. I know I've bounced around a couple of clubs and got to play in the outside backs for a little bit so maybe that's prolonged it - those guys don't to do much work out there so your body gets through a bit easier."

A lighthearted Morgan joked that Cowboys and Maroons teammate Josh McGuire should face time on the sidelines for accidentally knocking him out in Wednesday night's Origin decider and ruining his chance to play in Cooper's milestone match.

"I definitely won't be playing this weekend and I will talk to our doc and work out the process," Morgan said in Sydney.

"I remember everything before and then from about 10-15 minutes after it. (McGuire) is facing four weeks for it. He is charged again."