Cook runs into NSW Origin contention

first_imgCook shot himself to the front of the queue for NSW hooking duties this year with a sublime performance in the 26-14 win over the Roosters on Thursday night, carving through the Tricolours ruck for 127 running metres as arguably the quickest dummy-half in the game.Along with Manly’s Apisai Koroisau and former Souths teammate Cameron McInnes, Cook is piling the pressure on incumbent Blues rake Nathan Peats, who toils tirelessly in defence but is yet to show off strike power to match the likes of Cook and co.The Rabbitohs No.9 had plenty of opportunities to get on the front foot thanks to his big men, with the Burgess brothers Tom and George rattling up 332 metres, 26 runs and eight tackle busts between them.While Souths remain some way off the famed and feared power game that secured the 2014 title, there are shades of Luke’s livewire streak in Cook’s ability around the ruck.Reluctant to be drawn into the endless Holden State of Origin speculation, Cook paid tribute to his forwards after their plundering through the middle, allowing him to do the same against a backpedalling Roosters defence.”My first focus is the No.9 jersey and keeping that week in week out and playing consistent footy,” Cook said.”The forwards, they’re going well, they bring me into the game and if those representative honours come with that, it’s obviously a goal of mine and I would love the opportunity.”I’ve got to thank the big boys up front, I think Jason Clark and the Burgess boys really set the platform and the bench forwards come on and really lifted as well.”I think the easy metres they’re making and running hard like you saw them do tonight just brings me into the game and I just worry about the quick play the balls.”Cook’s rapid start to 2018 has seen him make more line breaks (four) dummy-half runs (41) and tackle busts (21) than any other hooker in the Telstra Premiership so far.It’s the type of impact around the ruck sorely missed by the Bunnies since Luke’s departure to the Warriors at the end of 2015.Cook’s impressive figures make it easy to forget that he only landed his starting spot at Redfern this year, after Anthony Seibold delivered some home truths when he took charge of the club.His previous two seasons have seen him yo-yo between the No.9 jersey and the bench, battling first McInnes and then Robbie Farah for a gig, with the latter’s arrival at Souths prompting Cook to seek a release to join Cronulla.Out the other side of so much uncertainty, with the Rabbitohs choosing to extend rather than release him, Cook is steering clear of the growing hype around his rep footy chances.”To be honest I try and stay out of it and keep my focus here on South Sydney and I feel like I’m doing that well at the moment, trying to block that out,” he said.”I think that’s the best way to do it and if I keep playing well here those things come off the back of that.”I’d love the opportunity but my first focus here is Souths.”last_img read more