Origin On Coote's Radar After Scotland Success
He linked with a bunch of part-timers to send shockwaves through international rugby league and Cowboys fullback Lachlan Coote says his Four Nations campaign with Scotland allowed him to move past a horror finals series and reignite his love for the game.
Coote will on Friday complete his first full week of pre-season training with the Cowboys, happy to be back in the heat and getting his body back in shape after it admittedly got "a bit sloppy" over the Christmas break.
'Sloppy' is not a word you would normally associate with Coote's performances on the field but the normally reliable custodian endured a rare night to forget in Week Two of the finals against the Broncos.
His hands failed him on four separate occasions, putting his team under immense pressure before they were finally able to move past Brisbane in extra time to earn a preliminary final berth against the Sharks.
On that night with fatigue a likely factor the Cowboys were down across the board as they made 11 errors and completed at 74 per cent, their premiership defence coming to an end a week before the decider.
It was not how Coote wanted to go out but the opportunity to play for Scotland for the first time gave him an opportunity to re-focus and move past his finals nightmare.
The 26-year-old was one of the absolute standouts of the tournament as Scotland pushed England for 50 minutes and then drew 18-all with New Zealand in a match they could – and perhaps should – have won.
It was far beyond what any pundit had predicted the Scots could achieve heading into the tournament and gave Coote the chance to leave his recent past behind and play on the international stage for the first time.
"It wasn't an ideal finals series for myself," Coote admitted.
"I wasn't up to scratch there and you can't really slacken off in those games and that's obviously why we went the way we did.
"Hopefully I can regather myself this year and come out firing and get through the whole year.
"Going over there with boys that are playing Super League and then there are boys playing what we would call local league and it was good to see that their passion is still there.
"The way that they work after football, they come to training, travel two hours on the weekend to play footy and then they've got to go back to work again on Monday and train again.
"It's good to see how passionate they are about the game and it really rubbed off on me.
"Going over there we had no expectations. There was no pressure and we went better than we thought we were going to go.
"It was good to get a bit more footy in there, a bit of a freshen-up and find the love again and be back here for pre-season."
Given his outstanding form for the Cowboys in their 2015 premiership season and again in 2016 Coote was among a handful of candidates thrown up as potential fullbacks in Laurie Daley's New South Wales Origin team last season.
The Windsor Wolves junior was vying with the likes of Matt Moylan, James Tedesco and Josh Dugan for the No.1 jersey last year and with Jarryd Hayne now back in the mix the competition has only become tougher.
But that doesn't deter the two-time City Origin representative who says he took on a leadership role while embedded with the Bravehearts in England.
"Hundred per cent, it always is," Coote said when asked of his Origin ambition.
"I was on the fringe there of Origin and it's always in the back of my mind. Hopefully the time comes if there's injuries or anything I'll be ready.
"With those park footy players, stepping up into that role I felt like I was a bit of a leader there to try and get them up for games and what they're going to come out and expect."
As for the Scottish celebrations after their draw with the Kiwis, Coote said there was only one thing he could compare it to.
"It was like we won the grand final with the Cowboys all over again," he said.
"It was a good feeling and good for them boys to experience that high-end football and to come off with a draw against the No.1 team, you can't get any better than that."
This article first appeared on NRL.com