MIKE Cooper says Wolves must do “whatever they can” to keep fellow prop Joe Philbin at the club.

Warrington-born Philbin has continued his rapid progress this year and is in contention for a place on the season-ending Lions tour to New Zealand and Papua New Guinea after being named in the 29-man performance squad.

Should he be in the final squad announced on Monday, the 24-year-old will get to display his talents to a wider audience – including any potential NRL suitors.

Cooper, who enjoyed a successful spell in Australia with St George Illawarra Dragons, says his fellow Warringtonian would thrive Down Under but naturally wants him to remain with The Wire.

“He is the future of this club in terms of the front row,” he said.

“We need to do whatever we can to keep hold of him because there’s other temptations out there.

“His aggression and the way he carries the ball in would suit the international game and the NRL.

“There will be people trying to poach him but we need to do what we can to keep him here.

“He should be walking with his chest out as he is a GB squad player now.”

Cooper and Philbin are the standard bearers for Warrington-born players in the Wire first team of late.

Both played junior rugby at Latchford Albion, while Philbin also played for Culcheth Eagles.

Cooper is passionate about bringing through the next generation of Warrington-born players and he says Philbin’s rise shows opportunities are there for the town’s youngsters.

“It shows the quality we have in our system,” he said.

“He’s come all the way through Culcheth, Latchford and Priestley College – it proves the system is working.

“However, we do need to get more Warringtonians playing for Warrington.

“That’s something I’m passionate about and I’d like to be involved a bit more in the future.

“Philbs should be an inspiration – as I hope I’ve been – to our local kids and a marker of what they can achieve if you put your mind to it.

“We’re both from this town and have played for our country and around the world. Kids from Warrington can see it can be done.”