Flying the Cooper – Dragons prop to leave club

Gone: St George Illawarra prop Mike Cooper will leave the Dragons to return to the UK with his family at the end of the season. The Dragons host Canterbury at ANZ Stadium on Monday afternoon. Picture: Adam McLean

St George Illawarra have been dealt a significant blow to their forward ranks with English prop Mike Cooper to leave the club at the end of the season.

Cooper will return to the UK with his former club Warrington Wolves on a three-year deal.

The 27-year-old admitted Dragons’ coach Paul McGregor was “shocked and disappointed” but said he respected the decision.

“It was a hard decision to make but both my partner and I have decided that is what is best for our young family is to return home at the end of the year,” Coopersaid.

“It’s not a decision that we have both taken lightly and we both spent a lot of time thinking about what was best moving forward for the three of us.

“We will have been here three seasons come the end of the year and that is a long time to be away from family and friends, especially when you have a young child.

“[McGregor]has brought me on in leaps and bounds as a player and I owe a lot to him and his staff.”

Cooper made his first-grade debut for the Dragons against Wests Tigers in the opening round of2014, playing 59games for the club.

The Dragons host Canterbury at ANZ Stadium on Monday.

Kick-off is at 4pm.

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