Cooper ready for Origin: Gillett

Even rival NRL backrower Matt Gillett reckons Gavin Cooper should be named in the Queensland State of Origin side next week.

But years of disappointment have ensured the North Queensland second rower is not getting ahead of himself.

Cowboys coach Paul Green admitted he felt sorry for Cooper “every year around rep time” after his prized backrower was overlooked for this month’s trans-Tasman Test.

The stage is set for Cooper to finally end his representative drought with another fine display in Friday night’s NRL grand final re-match with Brisbane in Townsville.

Brisbane’s incumbent Maroons backrower Gillett said Cooper had already done enough to convince him.

“Definitely. I think he is playing the best footy of his career,” Gillett said.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if he made the Queensland side.”

The Brisbane second rower said Cooper’s combination with Cowboys and Maroons playmaker Johnathan Thurston on the left edge made him a dangerous attacking threat.

“He is always showing up for Thurston,” he said.

“Coops is pretty handy with the ball as well.

“If we are off a little bit they will destroy us (on Friday night).”

Cooper reckoned North Queensland would lose more players than usual to rep duty this year but wasn’t counting his chickens.

“Origin is always a tough time for the club with so many out and this year there may be more than usual,” he said.

“It (Origin selection) would be a nice pat on the back but it is a bit away.

“There are a few positions up for grabs with a few injuries but Kevvie (Queensland coach Kevin Walters) and the selectors will sort that out.”

Cowboys co-captain and Queensland prop Matt Scott felt the stage was set for Cooper to finally make an Origin breakthrough with a strong showing against Brisbane.

“There’s going to be a fair few Origin spots up for grabs,” he said.

“It’s probably the perfect game to put your hand up for Origin.”

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