Thurston's faith in Origin debutant Cooper
He may be juggling the joint nerves of his Origin debut and the arrival of baby No.2 but Gavin Cooper can cope with a disrupted preparation ahead of Game Three according to Cowboys teammate Johnathan Thurston.
Cooper is the third player to be blooded by the Maroons in the 2016 Holden State of Origin Series but at almost 31 years of age is a much more seasoned campaigner than both Justin O'Neill and Corey Oates. He is the oldest player to make his Origin debut for Queensland since former Cronulla prop Danny Nutley played his one and only game for his state at 31 years of age in Game Three of the 2005 series.
With his wife Tenille giving birth to the couple's second child late on Tuesday Cooper is not expected to join the Maroons camp on the Gold Coast until Thursday when he will run straight onto the training paddock for his first session as Queensland Origin player No.185.
Preparing to play for your state for the first time is a nerve-wracking prospect for players on both sides of the border but Thurston says his left-hand man in the Cowboys' attack will handle the week ahead.
"He's very level-headed, very experienced," Thurston said. "He's obviously got a lot going on with the arrival of his second child but I've got no qualms about him handling it.
"He's very level-headed and mentally knows how to deal with those types of things.
"I spoke to him [on Monday] morning and he's pumped. He's very excited, he just needs to wait until the arrival of his second child and he can get down here."
Cooper's coach at club level Paul Green is also convinced that his back-rower's calm demeanour will ensure a smooth transition from his duties as a father to those of representing his state.
"He's pretty good at staying focused on what he needs to, Coops," said Green.
"He's definitely got a big week; Tenille is booked in to have the baby this week so plenty happening for him but it's all good stuff for him which is good, so I'm sure he will handle it no worries.
"He's been thereabouts for a long time now, but never really got a crack. So for him to finally get his first jersey, I'm really proud of him, and really happy for him.
"I'm also proud of the way he's handled himself over that period. He's never dropped his bundle or let it worry him, he's a real professional in that way with his attitude, and I'm really pleased he gets his chance."
With the withdrawal of Josh Papalii due to a knee injury Cooper will start from the bench against the Blues next Wednesday night but Maroons coach Kevin Walters has already expressed a desire to unite Cooper and Thurston in the Origin arena.
The Murgon Mustangs junior made his NRL debut with the Cowboys in Thurston's second season at North Queensland and after stints with the Titans and Panthers returned in 2011 to become an integral member of the organisation.
Cooper captained the Cowboys to their Auckland Nines triumph in 2014 and Thurston believes he and Cooper will be able to transfer their combination at club level into the Origin arena.
"We've got a really good combination at club level and no doubt we'll bring that into the Maroons team," said Thurston.
"I'm not exactly sure how Kevvie is going to use him but it will be a different task for him coming off the bench and he'll do a really good job for us.
"We arrived at the Cowboys at the same time in '05 and formed a really good friendship. He's been to a couple of other clubs but still kept in touch.
"Our wives are really good friends so extremely proud that he's going to make his debut and I'm glad that I'll be there beside him.
"He's been one of our most consistent performers and while his age might be a bit high for a debutant he's very experienced and he'll do a great job."