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Dragons' Cooper out of Eels clash

27/05/2010 06:50:55 PM Comments (0)

St George Illawarra centre Matt Cooper is out of Friday night's NRL blockbuster against Parramatta with a bruised hip.

Cooper copped a bump on his right hip late in the first half of NSW's State of Origin loss to Queensland on Wednesday night.

He failed to come out for the second half as the Blues went down 28-24 to leave the Maroons on the brink of a fifth straight series win.

Cooper said he expected to miss just the Eels encounter with rookie Kyle Stanley set to come off an extended bench into the starting line-up.

The remainder of the Dragons' Origin stars are set to back up on Friday night.

Dragons centre Beau Scott, hailed as the man to stop Queensland's Greg Inglis before injury cruelly intervened, will stake his claim for a NSW jersey when he goes up against the man who took it off him - Timana Tahu.

Scott will return from three weeks out with a knee injury to mark up against Parramatta ace Tahu - the defensive stopper desperate to make up for lost time in what will be his 100th game in the top grade.

"I guess there's never a good time for an injury, but probably the worst possible timing from my point of view," said Scott, who damaged ligaments in his knee in the Dragons' big round eight win over Cronulla.

"It was a bit of a shame but life goes on.

"I didn't dwell on it (missing Origin) too much because there's no point - it would only get you down more than you need to be. I moved on and tried to get back as soon as I could."

Asked if he'd save up something special for Tahu - with whom he waged a one-man war when the two sides met in round one - Scott said:

"I'm looking forward to it again.

"You try to lift for every game - you try not to overplay your hand I guess."

Ironically while Scott looks to push his case for a NSW centre berth, he may struggle to hold onto his position in the Dragons backline in coming weeks with ex-skipper Mark Gasnier eyeing a return to the club.

Gasnier is a specialist right centre, the same position Scott has made his own under coach Wayne Bennett with the Dragons virtually impregnable down their right edge thanks to the presence of the 26-year-old stopper.

While Scott could return to the backrow to accommodate Gasnier, just where Bennett finds an opening is a mystery with the representative quartet Jeremy Smith, Ben Creagh, Dean Young and Neville Costigan already vying for positions in the pack.

"Not really - we'll see what happens if it eventuates," said Scott when asked if he feared for his spot in the side.

"It would be good to see (Gasnier) back in the red and white I guess."

The Dragons' five other Origin stars all took part in the final training run, as did Parramatta's NSW contingent with Tahu and Jarryd Hayne expected to play after running with the Eels side on Thursday.

Veteran backrower Nathan Hindmarsh will also play after overcoming a sternum injury in last week's demoralising loss to Cronulla.

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