Be careful what you wish for, Paul Green.
Years of campaigning by Green for Gavin Cooper have finally paid off after the Cowboys backrower earned a State of Origin debut for Queensland.
But it has also ensured North Queensland coach Green must cope with the NRL reigning premiers’ biggest Origin exodus – five players – ahead of Monday night’s clash in Canberra.
Green admitted in April that he felt sorry for Cooper every representative season because the veteran backrower was always overlooked by selectors.
Cooper, 30, finally ended his drought when he replaced injured Maroons backrower Josh Papalii for July 13’s Origin III clash in Sydney.
“He’s been thereabouts for a long time but never really got a crack,” Green said of the 225 NRL game veteran.
“I am proud of the way he handled himself over that period – he never dropped his bundle.”
Now another wait looms for Cooper.
The 11 NRL season veteran is not expected at Queensland’s Gold Coast camp until at least Thursday – six days before Origin III – as he sweats on the birth of his second child in Townsville.
Green backed Cooper to keep his head during what would be a hectic week.
“He’s pretty good at staying focused on what he needs to,” he said.
“He’s got a big week Coops, plenty happening but it’s all good stuff.”
Cooper joins co-captains Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott, centre Justin O’Neill (Queensland) and James Tamou (NSW) on Origin duty.
As a result, Green named a Cowboys team captained by Rory Kostjasyn and featuring debutant Josh Chudleigh while Ben Spina and Tautau Moga play their first NRL game of 2016.
Green said the experienced Ben Hannant, Antonio Winterstein and Lachlan Coote would need to show leadership.
But he would also be leaning on Ethan Lowe and Kyle Feldt after they experienced Queensland’s game two Origin camp as development players.
“They have had a taste of what it is like in camp – I would like those guys leading the way as well,” Green said.
“That’s the trade off, you lose those guys (to Origin) and disrupts what you are doing but they have the experience of being around the best players.
“You hope what they learn they implement back here.”
Meanwhile, veteran Maroons prop Nate Myles also championed Cooper’s Origin call-up on Tuesday.
“It’s a very overdue reward,” said Myles who must overcome a knee complaint to play his 31st Origin on July 13.
“He probably snuck under the radar for a few years.
“But I think everyone realises now how good he is.
“It’s well deserved.”