Stop the Soward speculation: Cooper - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Stop the Soward speculation: Cooper

By Ian McCullough 26/04/2009 07:08:16 PM Comments (0)

Matt Cooper says his Dragons teammate Jamie Soward should be allowed to concentrate on playing well in the NRL and not have the added pressure of State of Origin speculation heaped upon him.

Cooper, who is one of the few players almost certain to play in this year's opening Origin encounter in Melbourne on June 3, was full of praise for the young five-eighth after he orchestrated the Dragons' 29-0 humbling of the Roosters on Saturday.

"He is in great form at the moment and I thought he was magnificent against the Roosters," he told AAP.

"However I don't want to put any extra pressure on him ... there is no doubt that he will be a rep footballer in the future but at the moment he should be allowed to keep playing well for the Dragons and the rewards will come."

The Australian international hailed his side's performance against the Roosters as their best of the season and said the defensive effort they displayed was a legacy of a punishing pre-season campaign Wayne Bennett put his new players through in the summer.

"Back in December it was really hard, probably the hardest of my career, but I think it is paying off now," Cooper said.

"We were under the pump for a while in the second half there, but defensively we never let them through and I think they were tiring towards the end and we hit them with two late tries ... it was a really pleasing win for us and probably our best of the season."

Soward, who left the Roosters in 2007 to join the Dragons, said the win meant more to him because it was Anzac Day and not because it was against his former club.

"I have been a Dragon for nearly three years now ... and I have nothing to prove to no-one here, the only people I have to prove myself to are my coach and my teammates," he said.

Soward was also full of praise for the huge number of Dragons supporters among the crowd of almost 30,000 at the Sydney Football Stadium.

"When I was at the Roosters I never had the chance to play (on Anzac Day) ... and to come someone else's home ground and have most of the crowd in the ground cheering for you it was a massive lift and a magnificent occasion to play in."

Bennett was also moved by the occasion, and claimed it was one of the most memorable occasions in his distinguished career.

A Navy helicopter delivered the Anzac Day Cup onto the field before the game and former diggers who played for both teams were introduced to a crowd of almost 30,000.

"I have been lucky enough to have a lot of wonderful memories in rugby league but this is right up there with the best," Bennett said.

"I hope in the future every parent gets the chance to bring their children here ... it is a wonderful occasion with so much of our history on display ... I would like to congratulate the NRL for such a great display."

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