COVID-19 hampers Cooper's future plans

North Queensland's Gavin Cooper insists his departure from the NRL club isn't a retirement decision but his plans to play on are being hampered by COVID-19.

GAVIN COOPER of the Cowboys.
GAVIN COOPER of the Cowboys. Picture: Matt King/Getty Images

Veteran North Queensland back-rower Gavin Cooper insists his impending departure from the NRL club is not a retirement.

The 35-year-old will play his final two games for the Cowboys over the next fortnight, ending an association with the Townsville-based side which began in 2006.

After more than 320 NRL appearances, Cooper is hopeful he'll be able to play on overseas but admits the global COVID-19 pandemic may put paid to those plans.

"I didn't actually say I was retiring," Cooper said on Tuesday, a day after it was announced he was leaving the Cowboys.

"In a COVID-free world we would've been tripping off overseas but that's not the case right now.

"We don't really know what tomorrow's bringing.

"For now, my time in the Cowboys colours are over but I'm not going to call it quits on my career just yet."

The 2015 premiership winner, who captained the Cowboys in the 2017 grand final, will play his final home match against Penrith this weekend.

Cooper played for the Panthers and Gold Coast during a four-year stint away from North Queensland after his debut campaign, before rejoining the Cowboys in 2011.

He said with overseas options scarce, the possibility of playing at another NRL club in 2021 was not completely out of the picture either.

"I've had a couple of interesting conversations with some different people but it always has been an aspiration of mine and Tenille's (wife) to get overseas at some point," the former Queensland State of Origin forward said.

"The world being the world right now, it's a bit of a tough time to navigate what that would look like.

"For now it's just about enjoying my last two games in these colours."