Reynolds backs Cook to make Origin breakthrough
Former NSW Origin halfback Adam Reynolds says his South Sydney teammate Damien Cook wouldn't look out of place in a Blues jersey, comparing the No.9 to another stellar Rabbitohs rake, Issac Luke.
Reynolds and Cook were reunited as the leading ball carriers in the Rabbitohs spine last Friday in the 16-12 loss to St George Illawarra, after Reynolds missed three weeks from a knee injury in round one.
"It's fair enough – he's a great player," Reynolds told NRL.com on Sunday of Cook's name being mentioned alongside Manly's Api Koroisau, incumbent Nathan Peats (Gold Coast) and the man Cook lined up against two days ago, Dragons rake Cameron McInnes.
"Cookie adds a different dimension than other hookers," Reynolds added.
"He's very similar to Isaac Luke when he's at his best, with his running and awareness.
"Isaac represented the Kiwis he was that good and I see Damien right up there with him."
Cook has heard the chatter but is reluctant to add to it.
"It's nice to be mentioned among other players but my main focus is South Sydney. We're not quite on our game yet and I've got to keep improving and working well with our spine first," he said.
"We've only got two wins but looking for a third this weekend against the Roosters (Thursday).
"That representative stuff comes along after good team performances and good consistent individual players.
"I've had no serious conversations with anyone," Cook said when asked if he'd noticed NSW coaches Brad Fittler and Danny Buderus' numbers come up on his phone.
"I don't like to talk about it. It's only the first year I've started round one as No.9 so a goal of mine is to be that for the whole year."
But if his match-up with McInnes is any guide, his nose is already in front.
Cook made four times the number of run metres (121 to 25), plus two tackle breaks, two offloads, one line break to McInnes's clean sheet, although the Dragons No.9 was a more avid tackler (40 to 32).
Helping the Cook cause further will be clicking again with Reynolds.
"I love having him back, he's great to play with. Even though Adam Doueihi did a fine job for us we're lucky we can fit them both in the 17," he said.
"It won't take long to get our combo back. We saw glimpses at the weekend but we probably let Adam down a bit by not completely well in the first half so it didn't allow him to come fully into the game."
Reynolds has cleared his concussion issues from Friday, which actually turned out to be dental.
"I chipped a tooth in my upper teeth, so was off to the dentist," said the 27-year-old, who doesn't wear a mouth guard.
For the man who has had two broken jaws, ankle and back issues, it seems injury is a constant companion. But he says it doesn't faze him.
"Injuries are a part of the game and some players get more than others. I've just been on the unlucky end last couple of years."
What does concern Reynolds is getting his mojo back and getting the Rabbitohs spine well oiled. His side had more offloads, tackle-breaks, line-breaks and fewer missed tackles on Friday but still lost.
"We hung in and defended well for each other. But I thought our attack was a bit clunky on the weekend and I take full responsibility for that. I've definitely got to do my job better. We've spoken as a spine that we need to be better."