OVER the past couple of weeks, Mike Cooper has lined up alongside players who have followed the same pathway as him.

With the Wire squad depleted for Covid-related reasons, Steve Price handed senior debuts to academy graduates Ellis Robson, Ellis Longstaff and Eribe Doro in games against Hull FC and Castleford Tigers.

All three more than held their own and helped Warrington pick up a maximum of four points from those games.

Cooper, who came through the Wolves academy himself in the early 2000s, was as pleased as anyone to see all three follow in his footsteps.

Warrington Guardian:

Ellis Robson in action. Picture by Mike Boden

“I’m so proud of those guys because I know what its like,” he said.

“Before I went over to Australia, I spent most of my time coming off the bench and it is really hard.

“At times, its harder than starting because you’re thrown right in at the deep end. We asked them to do a job and they went and did it.

“I’m mostly proud because I came through our academy system and I’d like to think I started that pathway for them.

“We’ve got to have faith in our academy system. The future of our club will be based on guys like them.

“They showed no fear and their communication was great on the field.”

Warrington Guardian:

Eribe Doro made his senior debut against Castleford. Picture by Mike Boden

With regular pack colleagues such as Chris Hill, Jack Hughes and Joe Philbin among others absent, Cooper has led from the front to continue The Wire’s superb form.

An 80-minute stint in the front row against Castleford followed 74 minutes against Hull – an impressive feat for a man who turned 32 this week.

“I’ve had a couple of days of walking round like I’m 82 rather than 32, but I’m okay now,” he said.

“I’ve been playing long minutes for a while now. It’s not really that uncommon for me to not come off in the first half.

“To be honest, with the way I am and the way I train, I prefer to stay on for longer rather than coming off and on again.

“I feel better when I stay out there and grow into the game.

“When you get older, you learn how to get yourself round the field in a smarter way. You use a few tricks of the trade in that respect.

“I look after myself a lot better than I used to and I’m probably in the best shape I’ve ever been in.”