South Sydney’s Damian Cook has proven something after a long time.
- South Sydney hooker Damien Cook was surprisingly left out of Australia’s World Cup squad last year.
- As a result, the Rabbit veteran enjoyed his first full preseason in five years
- Additional training could propel Cook and his team to new heights in 2023.
The journeyman days he endured before arriving in Redfern are now mere memories, buried beneath piles of New South Wales and Australian jerseys, chopping up Rabbit’s highlights.
The 31-year-old has long been counted as one of rugby league’s top hookers, so his exclusion from Australia’s World Cup squad raised some eyebrows.
It was the first time Cook was overlooked by a major national team since his emergence as South Sydney’s top hooker five years ago, with Queenslander’s Ben Hunt and Harry Grant favoring kangaroos. .
“It was a dream to play in that World Cup.
“We couldn’t let the offseason be ruined. [nor] I had to embrace time with my family, and preseason to turn it into something positive.
“I watched all the games and it made me feel good to see Benny and Harry kill it. If I was sitting here and they weren’t playing well…but they were the world’s best.” We won the cup, that’s the most important thing.”
Cook’s life is crowded at the top, as Grant, Hunt and fellow New South Wales hooker Api Koloisau rightly claim to be rugby league’s best hooker.
But while he’s desperate to reclaim the green and gold jersey, leaving him off the team has a more pressing silver lining that could propel him to an even higher level.
Cook hasn’t had a full preseason in almost half a year as rep’s duties and seasons have been extended due to COVID-19.
The last time he got into all the sweltering summer jobs was in preparation for the 2018 season.
It may not sound like much of an edge, but every inch counts if you’re aiming for the premiership, as South Sydney have done this season.
“I feel the difference. Last year we were interrupted by COVID, and in the years before that, we always had a rep at the end of the year,” Cook said.
“Preseason always scares me, but it feels really good to be a few weeks before Christmas.
“Confidence [in] Especially as we age, we push ourselves to a certain standard as we learn where we need to be and where our fitness level should be.
“Once the season starts, it may mean nothing. It just means you can do your best.”
If Cook’s performance against the Dragons at last Saturday’s Charity Shield didn’t matter, it would make a lot of sense.
He was impressive in the club’s 42-24 win, but never displayed a dynamic running game as he amassed two try assists and three line break assists.
Cook hopes this performance can get Rabbit off to a strong start to the campaign.
South Sydney have not won their opening game since 2019, dropping three of their first four games last year.
“We want to have a quick start here, something we haven’t done in the last few years,” Cook said.
“We have a certain way we want to play, a process we want to go through, and as long as we’re disciplined about it, we can get through our runs in the first five rounds.
“Sometimes we end up overplaying our hands, but we have to stick to what works for us and not slow down the execution. I don’t want to put too much pressure on the backend.”
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-02-23/damien-cook-miss-world-cup-squad/102013440 ‘I watched every game’: Why missing the World Cup will propel Damien Cook to new heights