Family and community, as well as a winning culture, have convinced North Queensland Cowboys second-rower Gavin Cooper to remain a Cowboy until the end of 2019, further strengthening the squad in the coming seasons.
After re-signing Jason Taumalolo, John Asiata, Matt Scott and Johnathan Thurston in previous weeks, the bye round has given the Cowboys time to secure Cooper's services for a further two years. With Melbourne Storm's Jordan McLean moving to North Queensland in 2018 the Cowboys are set to have a formidable squad next year.
Cooper is looking forward to remaining at the Cowboys, a club that has made the finals every year since he signed with the team in 2011, culminating in their maiden premiership in 2015. His leadership will be needed after 2018, when co-captain Johnathan Thurston is expected to retire.
"[North Queensland] feels like home. I moved up hear as a youngster, I was 18 or 19 when I first moved up here and met my now-wife when I was up here the first time," Cooper said.
 Telstra Premiership: Gavin Cooper
Tackles, All Run Metres, Line Breaks, Tries.
"Now football-wise I'm part of a pretty special group that did an amazing thing in 2015 and to be able to continue my footy journey… up here is pretty special. There were options to leave but raising a family now North Queensland really feels like home."
Coach Paul Green spoke about the strong sense of community that Cooper brings to the Cowboys, describing the current captain as the 'glue' that holds the team together.
"One of the strengths of our team over recent years has been the leadership and 'Coops' has been an integral part of that. He's not only added plenty on the field but he also brings plenty off the field which is important when you're trying to build a good culture," Green said.
"[Cooper's] ability off the field, I think his ability to connect with all the group, the senior guys as well as the younger guys. And the coaches. Sometimes you need guys that are kind of like the glue that keep the club together, and at different times that's definitely 'Coops'."
In recent times Cooper's maturity has served him and the Cowboys well, as he's been captain of the Cowboys' Auckland Nines side, as well as stand-in captain in the absence of Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott.