Cooper ready for emotional farewell
Mike Cooper has been happy to fly under the radar as Sam Tomkins, Adrian Morley, Pat Richards and company prepare to make high-profile exits this weekend but he admits it will be an emotional time for him at Old Trafford.
Like the Wigan Warriors trio of Tomkins, Richards and Lee Mossop, the Warrington Wolves prop forward will be plying his trade in the NRL from next season, having signed a two-year deal with St George Illawarra, although there has been nothing like the same publicity over the move.
"That doesn't bother me," Cooper said in the build-up to Saturday's Grand Final against Wigan. "I'm quite happy for everybody else to take the limelight.
"I know what a big occasion it is for me and my family and playing in the Grand Final is an unbelievable way to leave Warrington.
"It's an emotional week. Already coming to training you're thinking 'this is the last couple of times I'm going to train at Padgate'. But it's good, I'm happy with the decision I've made and I'm looking forward to the future. But what a way to finish!"
The 25-year-old Cooper, whose younger brother Jack had a recent spell in Australia with Wynnum Manly Seagulls, was under contract with the Wolves for 2014 and is grateful they allowed him to realise a long-held ambition.
"I'm still young and I haven't got a family at the minute," he said. "It's something I've dreamed of doing. People say it's the toughest competition and I want to have a go at that. I don't want to have any regrets in my rugby career.
"I got an Australian agent and I was fortunate to get a good review from the head coach and also other coaches over here.
"St George were one of the teams who came in so we sat down and had a chat and that was that.
"I spoke to three or four but it was a bit early in the season for them to make decisions. St George were probably the keenest so I asked (Warrington owner) Simon (Moran) if it was okay for me to leave a year early, and they granted me permission to do so."
As part of the agreement, Cooper has signed a new two-year deal with Warrington that will kick in from 2016 but, more immediately, he is hoping to sign off with a Super League ring.
He was in the side that lost 26-18 to Leeds on the club's maiden Grand Final appearance 12 months ago and is hoping that experience will count in their favour this time.
"We'll be in the home dressing room again after finishing higher than Wigan so we know what to prepare for," Cooper said.
"We know that this game goes up another level. We've got to learn from our mistakes and hopefully that's what we will do."