Qld bolter Cooper faces anxious wait

The long wait is finally over for Gavin Cooper after the veteran backrower earned a maiden Queensland State of Origin call-up.

But it seems there are still plenty of anxious moments ahead for the lanky North Queensland forward.

Cooper admitted to Kevin Walters he thought his “ship had sailed” in Origin after the Queensland coach told the 30-year-old he had finally earned a Maroons call.

However, it remains to be seen when Cooper will arrive in the Maroons camp due to the imminent birth of his second child.

Cooper – a veteran of 11 NRL seasons – was named as a replacement for injured bench forward Josh Papalii (knee, shoulder) for July 13’s Origin III in Sydney.

“His words were ‘I thought that ship had sailed’,” Walters said of his congratulatory phone call to Cooper.

“It goes to show about perseverance and sticking to your trade and doing a good job.”

In a landmark week for Cooper, he earned his Maroons stripes the same week his second child with wife Tenille was due.

It is believed Cooper was a last minute call due to Papalii’s late withdrawal and the Cowboys forward was not sighted when the Maroons squad assembled in Brisbane on Monday.

Cooper may start on the bench but is expected to form a deadly left edge combination with his Cowboys teammate – Queensland playmaker Johnathan Thurston.

He will join fellow Cowboys Thurston, Matt Scott and centre Justin O’Neill in the Maroons squad.

“It’s a blessing for Gavin Cooper to have those Cowboys players around him,” Walters said.

“He can drive Johnathan Thurston to be an even better player for Queensland, if that is possible.”

Cooper – a veteran of 225 NRL games – will be out to make up for lost time after years spent either as a back-up or 18th man to the Maroons.

“He’s been a great player for the Cowboys over the distance and it will be great to see him get his opportunity on Wednesday week,” Walters said.

“There are a lots of players amongst that Queensland team that are really, really happy to see Gavin finally get an opportunity.

“He’s been very close a number of times to being selected, even through (previous coach) Mal’s (Meninga) reign.

“I know that he’d been in and around the team for a long time now and he finally gets his chance so it was a pretty easy decision from our point of view.”

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