Mike Cooper, Benji Marshall press Four Nations Test claims

England's Mike Cooper is making waves with the Dragons. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN
England's Mike Cooper is making waves with the Dragons. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN


As teammates Josh Dugan and Trent Merrin chase a State of Origin whitewash, Dragons duo Mike Cooper and Benji Marshall are eyeing Four Nations selection later this year, coach Paul McGregor has declared.

A relative unknown this year in comparison to his English counterparts and NRL stars Gareth Widdop and the Burgess brothers, Cooper has been among the Dragons' best in the past two months.

At the same time, Marshall is starting to discover some of the touch which made him one of the game's most electrifying players after initially struggling on return from a stint in rugby union.

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"He's a pleasure to coach, he accepts criticism well," McGregor said of Marshall.

"He played his best football [against Melbourne], he played with a lot of composure. He needs to build from that.

"It's not going to happen for him all at once, it's going to happen over a period of time, but the pressure is not going to be on him at all.

"The pressure is going to be on the whole group."

Cooper will be leading the charge for the Dragons on Saturday night against North Queensland at Kogarah, with Merrin in NSW camp for Wednesday's Origin game three at Suncorp Stadium.

The Dragons will also be without the injured Dan Hunt.

McGregor said the challenge is in front of Cooper to maintain his form and earn his first ever English jersey.

"He's got that aggressive attitude that the Poms do," McGregor said.

"He thinks about footy, which is good and the way he's playing, he's been starting and pushing out long minutes.

"He's just got to continue that, because the Four Nations [considerations are] in 10 weeks time."