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South Sydney hooker Damien Cook.

Lonely solo kicking sessions at Redfern Oval have made South Sydney sparkplug Damien Cook twice as deadly as his dummy-half contemporaries in 2019.

With the Rabbitohs 5-1 and sitting pretty in an equal share of first place, Cook's six try assists rank him fourth in NRL and double the tally of the next most prolific No.9, Canberra's Josh Hodgson.

Cook's pinpoint grubber for Alex Johnston's try proved pivotal in Souths' 14-6 win over Canterbury last weekend, and was the second off his right boot after Sam Burgess was on the end of another deft nudge against the Roosters.

When Wayne Bennett arrived at Souths, he and Cook identified room to improve in the NSW rake's kicking game.

Johnston himself reckons he has been asking for that very grubber since Cook arrived at Redfern in 2016, and paid tribute to the hard yards behind the 27-year-old's evolution.

"After every training session he's doing all the little extras and kicking's one of them," Johnston tells

"Sometimes he's out there by himself, just him with four balls out there, pretending to jump out of dummy-half and get those kicks in.

"He's a hard worker as you can imagine and it's come off with that try. I've been asking for pretty much three years now for him to put a kick in for me.

"That's the first one he's lined up for me so I'll be asking every weekend now."

Cook says he is revelling in a more rounded Rabbitohs attack under Bennett, with an over-reliance on their lethal left-edge making Souths "too predictable" in his eyes during last year's finals.

Cook sets up Johnston with perfect kick

Halfback Adam Reynolds has equalled Cook's six try assists this season, his average of one per game a return to his early days when he netted 53 assists between 2012-14.

As one of the best kicking exponents in the game, the pint-sized No.7 also doubles as a handy coach alongside assistant and former Dragons and Bunnies half Willie Peters.

"It is something I've wanted to add to my game, the running game isn't always going to be there," Cook says.

"It's another way for me to be effective in the game and have that impact the team needs.

"Willie Peters covers the kicking at training but to be honest I've learnt a lot from Reyno.

South Sydney hooker Damien Cook.
South Sydney hooker Damien Cook. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

"I think he's one of the best kickers in the game, and just watching his technique and asking him over the past three years I've been at Souths, between him and Willie I've got a couple of decent go-tos for advice.

"The way I'm kicking now is more consistent than I've had. Before I probably had a bit more power but I had no idea where it was going when I was younger.

"Willie Peters is always into me on three things - the ball drop, my connection and follow through and it's something I'll keep working on."

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