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3 days ago
The St George Illawarra Dragons on Tuesday finalised arrangements with Super League Club Warrington Wolves to sign prop-forward Mike Cooper for the next two seasons.
Warrington have agreed to release Cooper from his current contract at the end of this season granting him a move to the Dragons for the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
Cooper, 24, is contracted with Warrington until the end of 2014 but the club has agreed terms enabling him to sign for the Dragons and return to Warrington on a two-year contract following his two years in Australia.
“Mike is a rising young forward in the English Sper League who was keen to further develop his career in Australia,” said Dragons CEO Peter Doust.
“A number of people based in England have recommended Mike to us and he is a good value proposition for us over the next two seasons”.
Cooper 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, and has currently made 118 appearances for the primrose and blue including a Challenge Cup Final (2009) and a Grand Final last season.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do since the age of 16,” said Cooper.
"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."
Wolves’ head of coaching and rugby Tony Smith played for the Illawarra Steelers and the St George Dragons and was supportive of Cooper’s move to the Dragons.
“I’m pleased for Mike and we are pleased as a club to support him in his desires to add to his career tuition,” said Smith.
“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."
Cooper will relocate to Australia at the end of the 2013 season with Warrington and join the Dragons for pre-season training in November.