Blues rake can’t get Cooked by Maroons

13/10/2019 Posted by admin

NSW’s Damien Cook (r) could expect some extra attention in Origin II after his impressive debut.This is one NSW State of Origin player that can’t get cooked by Queensland.

Blues hooker Damien Cook has welcomed any challenge from Queensland to take his speed out of the game by upping his defensive workload.

Cook was one of the NSW heroes in Melbourne after cutting the Maroons forwards to shreds with his blistering work at the ruck, including setting up the opening try for James Tedesco.

It was yet another confidence-booster in a breakout year for the South Sydney rake.

“I’ve been lucky to play 80 minutes a lot for South Sydney week-in, week-out, so I’m building confidence within the team and myself as well, being able to do that,” Cook told AAP.

“Obviously Origin is something I’ve never experienced before so it was a whole different mindset going into that game, but that experience will make me better for round two.”

But while he was soundly praised for his contributions in attack, the 26-year-old said he also took plenty of stock out of finishing the night with 53 tackles, missing none.

It was just 10 tackles shy of the record set by former NSW captain and Rabbitohs teammate Robbie Farah during his memorable performance in 2012.

Cook wouldn’t expect anything less than to be more of a target in game two, having been tested on a weekly basis at club level – and passing with flying colours.

“It’s just smart from other teams. If you’re playing South Sydney, are you going to run it at myself, or at Sam, Tom or George (Burgess)?” he said.

“The smarter option’s to run it into the smaller body. We know we get that traffic in the game, it’s just part of the game. We just try do our part in the game in attack, but hold our own in defence.”

He backed his improvement in fitness to withstand any fiery test from the Maroons.

“It’s something I’ve worked hard on in the pre-season and over the last few years, making sure my fitness is up there,” Cook said.

“Game fitness is a whole different thing, but this year I’ve been able to play week-in, week-out, 80 minutes at club level and I feel like I can do the 80 minutes fine.”

Australian Associated Press

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