Cowboys' woes leave Hess and Cooper in Origin limbo
Cowboys back-rowers Gavin Cooper and Coen Hess are unsure of State of Origin futures after their 7-6 loss to the Melbourne Storm at 1300SMILES Stadium.
Hess debuted in Game Two last year and was also part of the series-clinching win in Game Three while Cooper has played three times for the Maroons across the past two seasons.
If either miss out on selection it will be as victims of the Cowboys' unhappy circumstances, as both have been playing consistent football in the last few weeks.
Hess in particular has tidied up his game in the back end of his 80-minute games, although he hasn't crossed the stripe with the same regularity as he did in 2017.
"Origin wasn't really in my mind going into the game tonight. I just had a job to do for the Cowboys and I'll just let the selectors pick the team," Hess said.
"I just try my best every week for the Cowboys and if that's good enough it's good enough. If not I'll take it in my stride and keep trying to play consistent footy for the Cowboys."
With last year's grand finalists doing it tough at 3-9 for the season, Cooper is focused on trying to turn their fortunes around, but it's clear an Origin call-up would be a nice distraction.
"If I get picked in the team I'll switch over to that, if my name gets read out I'd love to play," Cooper said.
The second-rower believes Hess deserves selection based on his performances as an 80-minute player, which he says is tougher than what he was doing last year.
"Yes, 'Hessy' hasn't scored 12 tries out of 12 games like he did last year but he's working hard," he said.
"This is probably the most time he's spent on an edge playing 80 minutes every week... it's a tough position to get used to and get your head around.
"There's a lot more than just grabbing the ball and trucking it up through the middle and that's where Hessy was used a bit last year."
Cooper also pointed out Hess' improvement to his consistency in recent weeks as a mark of his skill as a back-rower.
"He's working really hard in defence and a lot of the stuff people questioned him about earlier in the year he's really fixed up," Cooper said.