By Mary Maidiotis
St George Illawarra Dragons prop Mike Cooper is looking forward to lacing up the boots for the local derby against the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at Jubilee Oval, Kogarah on Sunday.
Cooper, 26, spent the well-earned week off with family but is excited to get back into training ahead of the round 12 clash.
The Latchford Albion junior recently announced a two-year contract extension with the Club and says he was overwhelmed by the support he received from the Red V fans.
“It’s going to be a tough game as usual in derby matches but even more so because of how well the teams are performing,” said Cooper.
“We played them in round three last year and it was a pretty vocal game, we won that one but the quality from both sides has increased and both teams are performing completely different to how they were this time last year.
“They’ve been in some decent form and my former teammate Jack Bird has been playing pretty well for himself.
“Bird and Gerard Beale are both quality players who spent a lot of time here at the club, and it’s a shame to lose players, but it all goes out the window come game day.
“Both of them have been in good form, especially Bird, he’s been a standout young player, and it’s our job to contain him.
“The week off was good because we had a really tough five or six weeks, every game is tough but that block of games was really physical and we played against some tough sides, so it was good to get a bit of a break and freshen up.
“I took the family down to Kangaroo Valley and I’ve got Mum and Dad over from England, so it was a chance to turn the phone off for three days and spend time with them, my missus and my little baby boy who had his first holiday.
“It was a great couple of days but I’m glad to be back involved in training again.
“The support from the Dragons fans has been unbelievable since the day I arrived, everyone has been really welcoming and there have been hundreds of messages sent on social media.
“It makes me really proud to be a part of this Club and I’d just like to thank every one of them for their messages because it means a lot.”
The Dragons are encouraging all Members and fans to wear “Red” for a Red V Red Out at Jubilee Oval on Sunday and will have “Get Red-y” stations equipped with face painting, airbrush tattoo artists and merchandise to assist our fans to get “Red-y” with prizes on offer for the best dressed.
The Dragons will also be holding a special Community Open Day at Jubilee Oval, Kogarah this Thursday where Red V Members and supporters alike are invited to watch the Dragons train at Kogarah between 5.00pm -7.00pm ahead of clash against the Sharks on Sunday.
There is a free sausage sizzle and activities for the kids as well as the opportunity for autographs and photos with the players on the field post training.