Patrick Charles Hay Cooper
Pat Cooper was a fine halfback, of ‘similar style’ to the great Ken Catchpole. Quick off the mark, a strong pass to both sides, and a notable cover defender Cooper, like many of his peers, played second fiddle to arguably Australia’s greatest ever player.
With Catchpole an ‘unquestioned #1’, Cooper spent his senior representative career in competition with the likes of Norm Mayne, Laurie Lawrence, John Rouen and Easts’ Mick Hickman merely to win recognition as Catchpole’s understudy.
Born in Hong Kong, Cooper had never seen a football until he began his education at The King’s School in Sydney. Cooper played his first rugby for the U12Bs before he finished his schooling with one season in the 1st XV (1957).
Cooper went straight from the 1st XV into Parramatta’s first grade side however the progression onto representative football proved to be more protracted. Catchpole dominated New South Wales’ selection from his debut in 1959 so it was not until 1965 that Cooper finally broke through for his Waratah debut when he partnered Phil Hawthorne in the second interstate fixture, the 19-6 victory at Bathurst. That performance earned Cooper selection as a reserve for the opening Test against South Africa in Sydney however a leg injury forced him to withdraw.
The following year Cooper was again picked as a reserve, for the second Test against the British Lions in Brisbane, however he was not required on game day. Cooper then played in both trials ahead of the Fifth Wallabies tour. He partnered Randwick’s Tony Moore for Black II against Mayne and Rupert Rosenblum for White II and, with Catchpole rested, for White I opposed to a young John Hipwell. Cooper carried a niggling injury into the second trial and Hipwell went on to win a spot in the squad. Cooper later conceded that the selectors’ decision to pick “the up-and-comer was clearly the right thing to do” and history supports that assertion as Hipwell enjoyed a wonderful 36-cap career.
Cooper soon retired from all forms of rugby for married life.
Cooper was named alongside Dick Marks, Ross Teitzel and John O’Gorman as a reserve for the second Test against the British Lions at Lang Park.Highlights