Veteran Cowboys forward Gavin Cooper insists he still has plenty to offer on and off the field which is why he is not looking at next season as his farewell tour.
The 34-year-old has 308 NRL games to his credit and is preparing for his 15th season in the top grade but is is not putting a finish line on his career. It is why when it is suggested this could be his last season in the NRL he is quick to say 'who says it is the last hurrah'.
He signed a one-year extension with North Queensland in late August this year with the knowledge that there was still plenty left in the tank.
"I had a couple of good offers to go overseas and they were longer deals than what I had in Australia," Cooper told NRL.com.
"If I didn't think I had something to offer I wouldn't have stayed. Whatever role I play in the future is yet to be determined but for now the best thing I can contribute is on the field. Off the field I can do a job and do it well and that was a big part of staying on as well.
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"I am definitely not putting an end date on [playing]. From a club point of view they may see this year as my last for the club but I am definitely not looking at 2020 as my last year of playing footy. I still love doing it and turning up at training. The time will come when someone, or yourself, will tell you that it is time to hang them up but right now I am definitely not looking at next year as being a farewell tour."
Cooper can't wait to run out onto the new stadium in Townsville against the Broncos in round one next year. It is a date with destiny that will no doubt see a sell-out crowd in attendance. The 2015 premiership winner wants the club's new home to be a fortress while recognising what its construction has done for the region.
"It will be better if we are winning in it. I was fortunate enough to be at the Titans when we played in that new stadium as well and it still is just a patch of grass, but to see what it is has done for the town and broader community and see the excitement it has brought gives a lot more confidence to the people of North Queensland," Cooper said.
"You drive past it every day and see it getting close to what we think is completed. It is going to be really cool on that Friday night when we play the Broncos.
"When you speak about excitement, people in North Queensland don't like watching too much cricket. They are all hanging for the footy season to start."
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The Cowboys have missed the finals for the past two seasons but have a crop of young players coming through the ranks that give Cooper optimism for the future.
He said he was looking forward to mentoring back-rowers Mitch Dunn and Shane Wright, aged 23 and 22 respectively, along with powerhouse 19-year-old middle forward Tom Gilbert who has just extended his stay at the Cowboys until 2022.
"To think where those guys could be in a couple of years is exciting so it will be good to play a small part in their development and their early years," he said.