That's the verdict of Llanelli team manager Anthony Buchanan as lock Cooper prepares to face Canada at the Millennium Stadium this Saturday (K.O.4.30pm).
"He started with us as a 19 year-old line-out forward and mixed it on an equal par with one of the greatest locks in world rugby, Martin Johnson,"said Buchanan.
"In his very first season he was pitched in against the England captain when we faced Leicester in the Heineken Cup pool stages in 1996/7.
"We lost the match narrowly 16-25, but everyone at Llanelli remembers Vernon's performance. He matched Johnson jump for jump and tackle for tackle for eighty minutes."
Cooper was given new responsibilities for the Scarlets at the start of this season, named as club vice-captain and often leading the side in the absence of Leigh Davies.
"Vernon is a young man with an old head on his shoulders and he has lead by example on the pitch for Llanelli all season," added Buchanan.
"He has an excellent understanding of rugby union and works extremely hard on his fitness and on all areas of his game.
"He is an exceptional talent with an intimate knowledge of forward play in modern rugby. Well organised, mobile and with a unique ability to read thegame, he is certainly ready for the challenge of the international stage.
"Just like Dafydd Jones last week I'm sure he will grasp this opportunitywith both hands and put in a performance to make himself and Llanelli
Vernon Cooper to make international debut
Canadian coach in confident mood
James and Walne join squad