Wangaratta Rovers have signed a NEAFL star who’s opposed GWS giant Jonathon Patton.
Nathan Cooper earned Rising Star nominations in successive years after shutting down former Brisbane forward Jono Freeman and keeping five-time NEAFL leading goalkicker Darren Ewing goalless.
“As a defender in general and playing on those two (Freeman and Ewing), the focus is shutting down my direct opponent and winning the footy offensively was a bonus on top of that,” the ex-Sydney Uni player said.
The 21-year-old was a lightweight 87kgs when he faced hulking giant Patton, but he’s bulked up to an imposing 95.
The focus is shutting down my direct opponent and winning the footy offensively was a bonus.Nathan Cooper
At 195cms, the Hawks’ recruit certainly won’t be manhandled by any O and M forward.
“He’s played on the big boys, including that gun forward from the Northern Territory (Ewing),” delighted Rovers’ coach Daryn Cresswell said.
“With Nathan and Nick Murray down back, it will help us with ‘Pup’ (Michael) Clark and Coen Hennessy and give us a bit of flexibility to play one of those up forward as well.”
Cooper played in the Sydney Swans’ reserves grand final loss to GWS in 2016 and represented the league the following year against Tasmania.
Cooper has attracted some pre-AFL Draft discussion and, once again, Rovers’ bold decision to sign former Sydney Swan star Cresswell as coach after four years at Wodonga Raiders has paid off.
“A mate from Sydney was talking to ‘Crezza’ and from everything I heard it sounded very positive,” he said.
“The first focus is to enjoy my footy, but being under ‘Crezza’ with his experience, knowledge and contacts, there’s definitely a possibility he can help me take the next step.”
Cooper will travel as he’s studying civil engineering.
In an interesting aside, he won’t lack courage as he works as a window cleaner on Sydney’s skyscrapers.
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