Competition - NRL Premiership.

Round - 14.

Teams - St George Illawarra Dragons v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.

Date - 13th of June 2016.

Venue - ANZ Stadium, Sydney.

Photographer - Nathan Hopkins.

St George Illawarra Dragons prop Mike Cooper is hopeful of returning to the field in time to face the Gold Coast Titans at UOW Jubilee Oval, Kogarah on Friday.

The England international has been sidelined in recent weeks as a result of scans revealing several bulging discs in his neck and back region which had hindered his training in the gym.

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The Latchford Albion junior noted he has been limited to cardiovascular work during recent training sessions to date but is keen to increase the physical component of his conditioning to be game ready.

“I didn’t get a lot of time off during the break as the lads who were injured were working out to get their bodies right which is the way it should be,” said Cooper.

“I needed a couple of weeks to let my back settle down coming off the back of a couple of disc bulges so I needed to make sure that was fine.

“I think most forwards in the game today would have disc bulges or problems in some capacity and it came to a point several weeks back where I was struggling to train.

“I got my neck and back scanned and it confirmed that I needed to rest for a couple of weeks to get the body right.

“I managed to do a lot of running these past three weeks but in terms of actual contact I haven’t done a lot so as to let the body settle down.

“The body is feeling right so fingers crossed I get through the week at training and am ready for the game on Friday.

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“It was the game that we had earmarked to make my return but I was nearly right to play against the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles the round before.

“I didn’t feel one hundred percent though and thought that unless I could give that on the field I should wait as it wouldn’t be good enough.”