Mike Cooper made a return to action in a Warrington Wolves match last weekend following a three-year spell in the Australia playing for St George Illawarra. The 28-year-old made the trip to the NRL after playing 122 games for his hometown club between 2006 and 2013.
Cooper scored three tries during his 69 games in Australia which helped him pick up eight caps for England in international rugby. In his first season for Illawarra, the prop missed only one game as he was a regular in the starting line-up under coaches Steve Price and Paul McGregor.
Warrington’s new signing is delighted to be back in the Super League where he is much more experienced following his spell Down Under. He said: “I enjoyed my time away but it’s nice to be back in your home surroundings again, with family and friends. I’m a lot more experienced now and a lot more confident in my ability. Technically not a lot has changed. I’m probably a little bit fitter than I was when I left, and I know how to get myself around the field, I’m probably a bit smarter.”
Warrington started their Super League campaign with a 20-12 defeat against Catalans Dragons last week in the south of France where Rhys Evans and Andre Savelio scored tries in the loss. Their next game in the competition is at the Halliwell Jones Stadium when they host Castleford Tigers on February 24.
Wolves are 10/3 in the Super League Grand Final betting this season where they have just the 5/2 favourites Wigan ahead of them in the market. They will be hoping to go one better than in 2016 when they were beaten at Old Trafford 12-6 by the Warriors. That defeat came after Warrington had topped the Regular Season standings with 21 wins from their 30 fixtures.
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Cooper may get the opportunity to face an Australian outfit early into the 2017 season in the World Club Series as Warrington are set to take on Brisbane Broncos who have NRL odds of 9/1 to win the Grand Final this season. That is one of two games where Super League sides meet teams from Australia as Wigan will also face Cronulla Sharks.
The Broncos have won their last two games in England in the World Series as they beat Wigan in 2015 and 2016. The Australian side are 1/4 favourites to pick up the win in Cheshire and make it a hat-trick of successes in this challenging series.