Dejected North Queensland Cowboys, including acting skipper Gavin Cooper (sitting) at full time of the NRL grand final
Dejected North Queensland Cowboys, including acting skipper Gavin Cooper (sitting) at full time of the NRL grand final CRAIG GOLDING

Cowboy Cooper a winner in the speech stakes

LOSING sucks and losing a grand final really, really sucks.

The Adelaide Crows and North Queensland Cowboys will be nursing sore egos as well as banged-up bodies after losing the AFL and NRL deciders respectively this weekend. Nothing anyone says to the players will ease their hurt.

While the results were the same for both sides, their reactions - or specifically, the reactions of their captains - were worlds apart. Crows skipper Taylor Walker kept his post-match address short and sharp while Cowboys leader Gavin Cooper took a little longer on stage.

Walker was hammered on social media for being a "sore loser” while the Twittersphere was full of praise for a "classy” Cooper. This is what they said:

GAVIN COOPER

"I just want to congratulate Smithy (Cameron Smith), Bellyache (coach Craig Bellamy) - the whole Melbourne crew. You showed tonight what you've been showing all year,” Cooper said. "You were a cut above everyone this year - everyone should be very proud of what you've done and achieved.

"Tonight, you gave us a lesson in the tough stuff. Congratulations and enjoy the trophy.

"To our members, fans, supporters - up north, south, from all around, right up there - to all the families that have travelled far and wide, it's been a heck of a ride this last month. No one gave us a chance in hell to do anything that we've done.

"We gave ourselves a chance to do something special. Unfortunately we fell short but thankyou for your support.

"To our guys, it's been a tough year but it's brought us closer together. Like Bill (Slater) said we'll be better for what's happened this year, we'll get a couple of names back and build on what we've done. The sky's the limit.

"To Cooper Cronk and Bill - not sure what you're doing (next year) - whatever you guys decide to do in the future, congrats on everything you've achieved in the game.

"You've made our game a better place for the last 10 years and if you do leave, there'll be some big shoes to fill so once again congrats Melbourne and thanks everyone for your support.”

TAYLOR WALKER

"Firstly, congratulations Richmond. Too good,” Walker said. "Thanks to the sponsors and sorry Crows fans we couldn't get it done. Thank you very much for travelling. Thank you.”

Walker's not a natural public speaker so you can understand why he kept his speech brief. Plus Adelaide was the raging favourite after winning the minor premiership and coasting through its qualifying and preliminary finals, so the pain of being the best team all year but falling at the final hurdle will have been extra tough to swallow.

Making the top eight was considered a miracle for the Cowboys so by advancing to the grand final they'd already exceeded everyone's expectations - no doubt even their own. That probably explains why Cooper was able to put things in perspective and win the public PR battle of the losing captains.


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