Dragons and English front-rower Mike Cooper admits he did embrace the Anzac spirit in the lead-up to their annual clash with the Roosters. Credit: Robb Cox. Copyright: NRL Photos.
Rock-solid St George Illawarra front-rower Mike Cooper may not be from Australia but you would be mistaken if he didn't appreciate the chance of honouring this country's current and fallen servicemen.
Speaking after his sides' 34-14 loss to the Roosters in the traditional Anzac Day match, England born-and-bred Cooper couldn't help but tap into the emotion of his Australian and New Zealand teammates.
"Can't not really, can you? It's such a big occasion for the country and I was watching the news this morning and it was overwhelming really," Cooper told NRL.com.
"I think it's something the UK needs to do more of actually. We need to show a bit more respect and honour the fallen a bit more.
"It was a real honour for me to go out there and remember the fallen as much as anybody, regardless of my nationality."
With Cooper stepping out onto Allianz Stadium for the first time in front of 38,000-plus people, the hulking 25-year-old prop was able to emulate his former Warrington teammate and Roosters cult hero Adrian Morley by playing in the annual Anzac Day clash.
"It's a real honour – I don't think there have been many Englishmen that get to play in a game of such importance to the country of Australia," Cooper said.
"Emotions were high before the game and that affects everyone no matter where you're from. People are still giving their lives to defend the country and to allow us to live here peacefully, which is pretty honourable."
Cooper said it would go down as one of his career highlights.
"It's probably one of the biggest games I've played. Although crowd-wise I've played in a few finals back home so it wasn't as many as I've played in front of before but it's certainly up there with all the emotion and the intensity," Cooper said.