Test snub spurs Dragons' Cooper
Being picked in your country's squad for the recent Four Nations tournament for the first time ever is supposed to be an exciting time for any young player, but for St George Illawarra prop Mike Cooper it was met with mixed emotions when England coach Steve McNamara failed to hand the 26-year-old his international debut.
While Cooper believes his time in the English squad had its positives, he said the disappointment of missing out on a Test debut would drive him to greater heights for the Dragons in 2015.
"I was quite surprised when I was picked, so I was ecstatic to be in the [squad], but when you get so close and you just can't quite get in the team it is pretty disappointing," Cooper told NRL.com.
"I suppose it has given me a bit of a boost which these things are designed to do. I have to take the positives out of it; training in that environment, being there on game day, and I was 18th man for the last two or three Tests. But I was pretty disappointed that I didn't get an opportunity.
"But, in saying that, seeing how blokes like Sean O'Loughlin and James Graham were in the Test arena and how they were in the changing rooms is something I can take into this year and forget about the disappointment and concentrate on the Dragons."
Having played in the NRL alongside the likes of Graham, the Burgess brothers, Gareth Widdop and Sam Tomkins, the former Warrington Wolves forward is pleased that the development of his nation's best players is being highlighted in what is the best rugby league competition in the world.
"Most English players who have come out have gone on to do pretty well which is good for English rugby league. I think that's what we need, as many players as possible to come out here and prove that we can mix it among the best [players] in the world," Cooper said.
"Perhaps further down the track, we can go back [to the Super League] and pass on that experience and that might help get a few more players to Australia. The more players we get to the NRL the more we will compete internationally. I'm really pleased for the country that the development side of things is really paying off."
After completing his first full season of NRL last year, Cooper said his goal was to start more games in 2015 with the realisation that consistency is the key.
"I started in nine [games] last year and I really want to cement my place in the team," he said.
"I have to come off the bench and that's my job then I'll do it. I just have to be a bit more consistent and do anything I can to get this team back up the ladder."