MIKE COOPER is “training the house down” with a view to making the start of the season, according to Wigan head coach Matt Peet.
The former England international prop suffered an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) knee injury last April in the Good Friday derby against St Helens.
Cooper, 35, was immediately ruled out for the rest of the 2023 season but signed a new one-year contract in September with a view to returning this year.
He is now looking to complete his recovery in good time – it can take as long as twelve months – and play his part in Wigan’s busy start to the season.
Following their league opener away at Castleford on Saturday, February 17, the Warriors take on Penrith seven days later at the DW Stadium in the World Club Challenge, for which over 15,000 tickets have already been sold.
“I think he’ll feature in the early rounds of Super League and he’ll be available for the World Club Challenge, all being well,” said Peet.
“He’s training the house down, he’s really determined. He’s in fantastic shape, he’s in a good place.”
Cooper is yet to complete a full season for Wigan, after joining midway through the 2022 campaign from Warrington and playing seven times before disaster struck in his eighth appearance of last season.
That meant he missed out on Grand Final success, having never previously won at Old Trafford, but a shot at world glory could still await.
Wigan do, however, expect to be without fellow props Ethan Havard and Junior Nsemba for the World Club Challenge.
Havard is recovering from the hamstring injury recurrence suffered in the Grand Final, while Nsemba underwent a meniscal repair.
Jake Wardle, Liam Byrne and Abbas Miski have also undergone repairs in the off-season but will be available for the start of competitive action.