Cooper defends absence from Country side - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cooper defends absence from Country side

By David Beniuk 05/05/2010 06:45:48 PM Comments (0)

St George Illawarra centre Matt Cooper has defended his absence from Country Origin sides, while officials remain cagey about his State of Origin chances.

Cooper received a blast from Country chairman Jock Colley after the former Test star withdrew from Friday's showdown with City only to be selected for the Dragons' clash with Manly to be played 24 hours later.

Colley said Cooper would not be selected for Country again on his watch and should be barred from playing Origin after missing the last five intrastate Origin trials.

Cooper told Rugby League Week: "Its disappointing that people think I didn't want to play (last year)."

"I can't help getting injured.

"Yes I did play that weekend for the Dragons but I needed four needles and couldn't train all week."

NSWRL boss Geoff Carr said the rules had been adhered to by Cooper so his Origin selection would be up to selectors.

"He seems to have ducked playing for Country for a long time but he doesn't have to do that if he's been medically withdrawn by the team doctor," Carr told AAP on Wednesday.

"He was injured in the game he played on the weekend.

"The St George club made contact with the Country doctor Hugh Hazard ... Hugh was convinced that Matt Cooper possibly could play but he couldn't train given the nature of his injury.

"If he's withdrawn medically by the Country doctor and 24, 48 hours later he can turn out for St George, there's nothing the rules that prevent him.

"He hasn't breached any of those rules so the make-up of the NSW Origin team will be up to the selectors."

Country coach Laurie Daley, also a Blues selector, said he'd been satisfied with the Dragons' explanation that Cooper had picked up a calf strain in last weekend's win over Cronulla.

"It was just a decision that's got to be made pretty quickly because you only have a few days (to prepare)," Daley told AAP.

"I can understand Jock's feeling because of what's occurred but at the end of the day I'm more focused on this group."

Daley, though, was cagey about 31-year-old Cooper's Origin chances, despite form which has snared him four tries in the past two weeks.

"He's playing really good football," Daley said.

"There's a lot of good centres running around - (Jamal) Idris and (Chris) Lawrence, Timana Tahu's playing well and then you've got Jamie Lyon in the Australian side so we've got a number of options there in the centres.

"Unfortunately Beau Scott was unavailable with injury so hopefully he's only out for a few weeks.

"With NSW, in most of their positions now we've got a lot of depth so it's not as if we're relying on one or two players.

"Whatever players are playing well and who we think can do the job, they're the ones who will be picked."

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