Cooper to head Down Under
Warrington Wolves confirm that prop-forward Mike Cooper will join NRL side St George Illawarra Dragons at the end of the current 2013 Super League season.
Warrington have agreed to release Cooper from his current contract at the end of this season granting him a move to St George Illawarra on a two-year contract.
Mike, 24, is contracted with Warrington until the end of 2014 but the club has agreed terms enabling him to sign for the Dragons from next season. As part of the agreement Mike will return to Warrington on a two-year contract following his spell in Australia.
He is a product of the Warrington academy system having progressed from one of the town's grassroots clubs, Latchford Albion. The prop made his first team debut back in 2006 with the support of SquadBuilder earning himself heritage number 1068 and has currently made 117 appearances for the primrose and blue including a Challenge Cup Final and a Grand Final.
Renowned for his hard-hitting tackles and barnstorming runs down the middle of the field Mike is now ready to further his game in Australia.
He joins many other British stars in the NRL with the likes of the Burgess brothers, James Graham and Gareth Widdop currently Down Under. Wolves captain and fellow forward Adrian Morley spent six years with the Sydney Roosters so will be able to offer guidance ahead of the move.
Mike said: "It's something I've always wanted to do since the age of 16. Being a Warrington lad I'm very proud to have been a part of what the club has achieved over the last couple seasons with the recent success in the Challenge Cup and in reaching the Grand Final. The next step for me is to test myself in Australia and gain some experience. I'm fully aware it's going to be big learning curve for me; I'll be back at square one again really but it's something that really excites me.
"There were a couple of clubs that we were speaking to within the NRL having watched the last couple of seasons. St George Illawarra is a club with a great heritage this along with the big names involved with club and the pictures of where they are based at Wollongong ticked all the boxes for me.
"I am greatly appreciative of Simon, Tony and Warrington as a club for allowing me to go. I'm 100% focussed on this season with Warrington and the ambition is to win all three trophies this year with this club. My focus is purely on the Super League and Warrington come the end of the season is when I'll start to concentrate on what's happening in Australia."
Wolves' head of coaching and rugby Tony Smith played for the Illawarra Steelers and the St George Dragons prior to the merger in 1999 to become the St George Illawarra Dragons. Tony said: "I'm pleased for Mike and we are pleased as a club to support him in his desires to add to his career tuition. We are happy to assist him in developing himself as a player and we hope this opportunity will be of benefit to both Mike and this club at some stage in the future. Mike has expressed that he has no wish to play for any other English or Super League club however he does have a desire to go and test his wares in the NRL and he's been fortunate to be given that opportunity by St George Illawarra."
All at Warrington Wolves would like to thank Mike for his many years loyal service to his home-town club and wish him all the best with his move to the NRL next year.
Click here for video interview courtesy of Stuart Wilson and Dave Ricketts
Mike is proudly sponsored by Redline Recruitment
30, Apr, 2013