Gavin Cooper (left) and Billy Slater during the Queensland State of Origin team training session at Sanctuary Cove.
Gavin Cooper (left) and Billy Slater during the Queensland State of Origin team training session at Sanctuary Cove.

No rep retirement for Cooper

GAVIN Cooper says he won't be following Queensland's veterans into retirement and is adamant he can perform at Origin level without his long-time partner-in-crime Johnathan Thurston.

The departure of skipper Cameron Smith and the omission of Matt Scott has left Cooper, who turns 33 in August, as the Queensland pack's oldest forward in Origin I on Wednesday night at the MCG.

It took Cooper a decade of toil at NRL level to clinch his maiden Origin jumper in 2016 and now, having fought his way into the starting side, the Cowboys back-rower is digging his heels in.

 

"I was going to call a press conference and tell Kev (Walters, coach) I would retire in 2020," Cooper said with his trademark sarcasm as he prepares for his fourth Origin game in the series opener.

"If I am the best man for the job, I will put my hand up. If I wasn't the best man for the job, they wouldn't pick me.

"While I am the best man for the job, I am more than happy to keep playing on.

"I am getting goosebumps just talking about playing for the Maroons and it is something I have only done a few times.

"It took me a long time to get here, so I am not going to give up the Queensland jumper any time soon."

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Cooper's critics will argue the 273-game NRL veteran only earned his Queensland spurs because of his potent left-edge alliance with clubmate and Maroons champion Thurston.

But Cooper showed in last year's decider he can fire at representative level without the special service of Thurston.

 

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