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Bennett fears for Cook's impact if slowdown tactics continue

South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett concedes livewire hooker Damien Cook will need to find ways of combating ruck tactics leading into the clash against Penrith on Friday night.

Bennett insisted he didn't follow up his thoughts on the Bulldogs' alleged defensive efforts with NRL head of football Graham Annesley this week despite venting his frustration following the Good Friday clash.

The veteran coach said on Thursday he doesn't read the papers, or news outlets, so he wasn't aware of the response Annesley offered earlier in the week.

"It's fine, if that's what they said. What I was saying is that the refs have got to be like the players," Bennett said.

"They can't go out with a pre-conceived idea about how we're going to play, they've got to go out and ref what's in front of them just like we play what's in front of us.

"If you have a bad day and everyone wants to lay in the ruck they've got to blow the whistle."

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Bennett believes Cook's was one of the biggest losers from the tactics, although admitted it was all part of the game to try and contain him.

The Blues rake still managed 17 runs from dummy-half.

"He's not the problem, it's a bit hard when everything is static on the ground and two markers are set in their defensive positions," Bennett said.

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"If you think about it we're going to get a lot of pressure put on us in that area than a lot of teams because he's the best running hooker in the game.

"You just don't want him running when you coach against him. That's the last thing you want.

"You are given certain instructions into how you handle him and limit what his influence is on the game. I wouldn't say that but as a coach and have done it in the past, you've got to do your best with him.

"It's not right or wrong. The issue is if that's what happening in the game that's what they've got to recognise is happening."

Bennett refused to delve into any talk about his potential coaching deal at Penrith last year before he linked with the Bunnies on a three-year deal. reported on April 1 the former Broncos coach had a verbal agreement to join the Panthers before the club went in another direction and signed Ivan Cleary.

"I made a statement on that three weeks ago and nothing has changed. I have nothing to do with the Penrith club whatsoever so you can't get me on that one," Bennett quipped.

"They've always been a strong team, for the last five years there's been strong expectation on them.

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Bennett also had little to say about Gould's departure as general manager at the Panthers.

"What's it got to do with me? Why would I react?," he said.

"I didn't think he was leaving rugby league. It's got nothing to do with us, I'm not sure what impact it will have on them but we expect them to play well tomorrow night and will have to play well to beat them."

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