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Rabbitohs hooker Damien Cook.

In 2019, Damien Cook claimed the Australian and NSW No.9 jerseys and stamped himself as one of the game's elite best hookers, but the Rabbitohs rake still has a firm plan on how he can  improve his game.

The electric dummy-half has no plans to abandon his knack of shredding lazy markers after a quick play-the-ball but he is aiming to be more selective with his runs while continuing to build his kicking game and ball-playing.

"The premiership is the goal that tops them all," Cook said matter-of-factly when asked by how he continues to strive for improvement.

"I've just got to keep working on game management and probably my kicking game.

"Game management for me is about trying to think slow, play fast."

Cook believes he has probably overplayed his hand a little in the past and admits to getting side-tracked by his swelling run-metre tally in recent years.

"I can't look at run metres any more," he said.

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"In the past it's something I probably did [and] wanted to reach a certain amount but now it's about just making sure I'm picking the right times to run and if not making sure I'm putting someone in a better position.

"I get a lot of enjoyment out of putting the forwards in the right position or the halves who are outside me."

The key is giving himself the time to make correct decisions – something he believes long-time Test hooker Cameron Smith is still the best at.

"Cameron looks like he's got all the time in the world and that's something I want to try and do," he continued.

"Not overplay my hand, slow my mind down a bit more and keep making those right decisions.

"There's parts of my games I want to keep. Over the last two years there's been two sides where the running game was really good in '18 and I thought some ball-playing last year was really good too.

"I just want to make sure I put all that together and do my job. I've got to try and find that balance of when to run and when to pass.

"It would be very easy to just run every time but it's probably not the best thing for the team."

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Cook had a run at the Nines and anticipates getting more game time in this weekend's Charity Shield fixture in Mudgee, where the Rabbitohs are expected to be close to full strength with the possible exception of Cody Walker (shoulder).

With Latrell Mitchell needing to build combinations from fullback and a new-look pack also trying to gel, the trial will be an important one for Wayne Bennett's men.

"With Latrell coming to fullback, it's not going to work right away, it will take time to get those combinations," Cook said.

"Wayne always talks about how you don't want to be playing your best footy right now and that's what we did last year. We won nine from 10 games then went through a struggle in the middle of the year and didn't find our form consistently at the end.

"We just want to keep building on what we're doing. It's great to have Latrell there.

"For me I just hope he starts round one and we build from there straight away, let him build his fitness and build those combos as we go."


Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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