COOPER Gallagher only has a limited number of days left where he can still classify himself as a junior.
The Port City Breakers young gun will join the Port Macquarie Sharks for the upcoming Group 3 rugby league season, but first he wants to farewell the NSW Junior State Cup in style.
He will lead Port Macquarie's under-18 boys into battle at this weekend's annual event as captain - his last in the age division.
He's been with the affiliate since day one and has transformed from a quiet 10-year-old into one of the true leaders in coach Brendan Prince's side.
"I remember my first game was in Wollongong, Brent Steep was our coach and we ended up making the round of 16, but lost the game," he said.
With touch football running in the family, the teenager said it seemed like being the logical path to follow.
"My mates were all playing as well and my family played so I followed the family," he said.
Gallagher knows he'll have a significant role to play if the Makos are to be there when the whips are cracking on Sunday afternoon.
They've drawn Manly Sea Eagles in their pool, but they're not daunted by the prospect of running into arguably the strongest affiliate in the northern conference before the finals.
Fortunately, the Makos don't face them until their fifth game of the weekend - at 10am on Saturday morning.
By that time, Port Macquarie should have settled into the tournament.
"Manly coming into our pool isn't ideal; they throw a lot of long balls, play wide and structured and use the field a fair bit," Gallagher said.
"They're very fast too."
How well the Makos defend will go a long way to determining how far they progress.
But after winning the Northern Eagles championships in Forster three weeks ago, the captain was confident they would give the State Cup a shake.
"We defended pretty well then and our attack was pretty good, we just need to polish up a bit on our defence and stick to the plays more," he said.
He admitted they drifted away from that at times in Forster much to the annoyance of the coach.
"He wasn't too happy about that," Gallagher said.
"So if we stick to our plays, stick to the structure and defend properly we should win games."
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