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Cowboy Cooper riding off into the sunset

Representative forward Gavin Cooper will call time on his Cowboys playing career at the end of the season.

North Queensland announced on Monday that the Murgon Mustangs junior, who has has appeared in 321 NRL games over the course of a 15-year career, including 245 in Cowboys colours, would not be running around again at the club in 2021.

He made his debut for the Cowboys in 2006 before returning five years later after stints at the Gold Coast and Penrith.

Cooper was a driving force behind the Cowboys’ seven consecutive finals appearances between 2011 and 2017.

The 35-year-old captained the Cowboys to the club’s first piece of silverware - the 2014 NRL Nines title and appeared in 27 games during North Queensland’s maiden premiership campaign in 2015.

Cooper: I wouldn't change anything

In the absence of the injured Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott, he captained the Cowboys during the fairytale run to the 2017 grand final.

Cooper also made six State of Origin appearances for Queensland and was a member of the 2017 NRL All Stars side.

"I’ve enjoyed a lot of success here at the Cowboys and I had the chance to leave a couple of times, but I always felt a strong connection to the club and community and North Queensland was where I wanted to raise my young family," Cooper said.

"The 2015 grand final is the memory which sticks out for obvious reasons, but there were a number of other periods during my time at the club I look back on really fondly.

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"The run through to the 2017 grand final and to see some of the young kids we had in our squad that year grow up really quickly was very special. My 300th game down in Gosford when Jake Clifford stepped up and kicked a field goal for us to win against the Roosters and all the golden point games against the Broncos are other memories which stick out.

"There’s a long list of people I’d like to thank for their contributions to my career, but I don’t want to single anyone out right now, that is something I would like to do in person down the track.

"I’ve enjoyed every second of my time as a Cowboy.

"I’ve got two more opportunities to wear Cowboys colours and I’m going to give it my all like I always have with that jersey on and hopefully finish on a high."

Cowboys director of football Peter Parr described Cooper as one of the most influential players in club history.

Broncos v Cowboys - Grand Final, 2015

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"He’s one of the great contributors this club has ever had. To play the amount of games he has and the amount of time he has spent on the field is significant for me – he’s a guy that has played 80 minutes almost every game of his career, which I think has been understated," Parr said.

"His on-field record speaks for itself, but what I think of when I reflect on Gavin Cooper’s career at the Cowboys is what he did away from the paddock. How consistent he was with his training and preparation and his care for his teammates and the club.

"There hasn’t been a player who has cared more for this club or been more selfless for this club than Gavin Cooper.

"He did whatever he could to make this club successful both on and off the field and for that reason all of us who have been privileged enough to have had something to do with his career, we will look back on it as one of the great Cowboys careers."

The Cowboys host the Panthers in Townsville on Friday before finishing their season next Thursday against the Broncos in Brisbane.

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