Cooper makes late Origin selection plea
Gavin Cooper has issued a plea for State of Origin selection, believing his experience and leadership qualities can make him an invaluable member of the Maroons.
Cooper is among a clutch of North Queensland players in the fringe selection category who have one last chance to push their Origin cause when they face the Raiders in Canberra on Saturday.
Fellow second rower Coen Hess has played five games for Queensland, one less than Cooper, while centre Justin O'Neill has had a brief taste of interstate rivalry and hooker Jake Granville is deemed by some to be ready for that level.
Cooper agreed all had improved their prospects with last week's 17-10 win over Parramatta but, for the forwards in particular, impressing Queensland coach Kevin Walters with their form against the tough Canberra pack would be critical.
The 33-year-old, who started all three games for Queensland in last year's series loss to NSW, says his leadership would be an asset in a team lacking that quality through the departure of several of the game's greats.
"I do that (lead) in any team that I play in, they've seen that in years gone by," Cooper said.
"With who we've lost in the Origin arena over the last couple of years ... Kev knows, everyone knows, what I do for the team when I'm there.
"Hopefully I've done enough. If I haven't I'll get back and do what I do for the Cowboys. If I get my chance again, I'll grab it with both hands."
Cowboys forward Jason Taumalolo sung the praises of Granville, who is a long shot to start for Queensland but could be a Maroons bench candidate.
Taumalolo believed the 30-year-old has honed a rounded game and was touching career-best form this year in Townsville.
"Obviously Jake plays a huge part in our team, the way he plays," he said.
"When he first came to the Cowboys, he showed how explosive he was and how dynamic he was out of dummy half.
"He's slowly hitting his straps again. When you get a bit older, you start to lose a bit of pace and that but Jake's got other things to his game that all of us value."
© AAP 2019