Fenech excited by dummy-half double act

While teams have traditionally struggled to replace champion players, South Sydney seems to have recovered well from the loss of their pint-sized hooker Issac Luke.

The much-loved No.9 announced he would be leaving the Redfern club at the end of 2015, poised to link up with the New Zealand Warriors. 

"Shame to lose Issac, but obviously there were circumstances around his father. He's a good man, and he made a great contribution (to the club)," said former South Sydney hooker Mario Fenech. 

Speaking to NRL.com, 'Falcon' lamented the loss of the 192-game veteran, but was excited about the likely partnership of Cameron McInnes, and new recruit Damien Cook. 

McInnes has played 20 games for the Rabbitohs over the past two seasons, while Cook impressed all and sundry when deputising for the injured Michael Lichaa at the Bulldogs. 

"Damien Cook, I'm really excited about him. He's got some great potential and he's a wonderful athlete. McInness is an up and comer. I like both of them," Fenech said.

Having predominantly represented South Sydney as a hooker, Mario Fenech said competition between the two would inspire them to bigger and better things.

"I really think it's a good thing because they are both very good players," he said.

"I vividly remember having to compete with other hookers that were taking me on, and it only drove me to perform better. May the best man win if you know what I mean."

Fenech also sees the potential of having both players on the field at the same time; a tactic that could reap rewards against tiring packs. 

"I know they're both great boys who want to play in hooking positions, but to be honest, they can play in the back-row as well.

"They are capable enough and big enough – even though hooker is their preferred position – but in saying that, they are capable of playing other positions. It'll be an interesting battle for that top spot."

Both Cook and McInnes took part in the Downer NRL Auckland Nines, and are set to further their chemistry in this week's Charity Shield. 

After the Rabbitohs finished seventh last season, Fenech is hoping the dynamic duo can spark his beloved club to an even better 2016. 

"I just want to see them compete. I'm a hard marker, but ideally I'd love to finish in the top four and that's a realistic opportunity for us, subject to injury of course. 

"We have lost a number of players here and there, but when you look at it, they're (Cook and McInnes) going to compete against each other, and guess what, that's going to lift them."