He may have hung up his Cowboys playing boots but club life member and fan favourite Gavin Cooper has made one very popular decision on his next steps after retirement.
Cooper: I've seen the impact
The 35-year-old Premiership winner has taken up a part-time position with the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys as a community engagement ambassador, supporting the Cowboys' school-based programs – Adopt-a-School, Try for 5! and The Resilience Project.
Cooper will also work with the club's commercial team on game day activations and experiences in 2021.
Already a familiar face for North Queensland schools, Cooper has been kept busy with classroom visits since playing his final NRL game two months ago against the Broncos.
He's a natural in his new role and can quickly build a connection with a class with humour, interaction and focus, as the Year 4 students from Calvary Christian College experienced on a recent visit.
Cooper joined Miss Barr's class for an Adopt-a-School visit – with the support of presenting partner Bravus Mining and Resources – reading aloud the classic "What If Everybody Did That?" and offering examples as guidance before taking questions.
His ability to engage with a range of year levels comes from 11 years' experience working with the club's community programs during his playing days.
"I've seen the impact our visits have on the kids at the schools," he said.
"When I go out there with the Cowboys shirt on, I know that the kids are engaged.
"To see that work one-on-one or in a bigger setting is really rewarding."
Cooper is on the road this week for The Resilience Project, supported by the Northern Queensland Primary Health Network, with former teammate and community engagement programs officer Ray Thompson, visiting schools in the idyllic Whitsunday region.
Cowboys Chief Community & Government Relations Officer Fiona Pelling says Cooper will be a great asset to the off-field team.
"We are really appreciative that Coops has agreed to continue to support the club by adding value to the impact of our programs and our game day experience.
"He's hit the ground running and joins a number of former players who have transitioned into our club administration in full-time or ambassador roles.
"Coops is much-loved in our school communities and with his quiet determination will no doubt make this role his own."