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Warrington Wolves prop Mike Cooper motivated by Grand Final pain
MIKE Cooper is a player motivated by defeat.
Not just any defeat, though, the defeat that all Wolves fans will talk about in anguished voices in years to come, the defeat at the hands of a Leeds side they had comprehensively beaten twice already that season, the defeat on British rugby league’s biggest stage.
It is probably to be expected that the common motivation running through Tony Smith’s squad ahead of the new Super League season is that of retribution for their loss at Old Trafford, but not necessarily against the team that beat them.
Cooper believes they have to look closer to home to find the real culprits.
“I suppose the Grand Final overshadows what we achieved in the rest of the year, which is unfortunate really because we were consistently one of the best sides and we let ourselves down at Old Trafford,” said Cooper, who earned a spot on the Grand Final bench after impressing against St Helens in the semi final at Langtree Park.
“I think it was really noticeable, that it was ours to throw away and we threw it away.
“That bugs all of us here at Warrington, I think. It certainly bugs me!
“Each player will have a different driving force and goals, but that defeat is what motivates me.
“Now I have got my loser’s medal sitting alongside my Challenge Cup medals and it just doesn’t fit, it is a reminder every day of what we didn’t do.”
With Wolves making all the right noises in pre-season, it looks like Smith’s squad intend to make up for that disappointment at the first time of asking.
And this is where the Warringtonian’s second motivating factor comes into play, the desire to take a more prominent role in Wolves’ march to Old Trafford.
It will be difficult, as only the ubiquitous Chris Riley, Ryan Atkins and breakthrough player of the year Chris Hill managed more appearances than the 31 (incl 23 sub) recorded by Cooper last year, but there is one way in which the 24-year-old believes he can go a step further in 2013.
“I just want to get my hands on a starting position,” he said. “Last year was more about being involved in the big games, the Challenge Cup Final, the Grand Final, and after getting into the Grand Final team I want to build on that for this season.
“I played prop, second row and loose forward last year, so wherever Tony wants me to play I’ll go.
“I played a lot of loose forward last year and I enjoyed it, so whether that will start to be my regular position as I get older, we’ll see.
“Whether it will be the same this year, I am not sure. But I want to keep doing what I am doing and keep playing games.”