Blues hooker Damien Cook has praised the development of former Rabbitohs teammate Cameron McInnes and relishing the chance to reunite in Origin camp.
McInnes captained the Rabbitohs at under-20s level and featured in the NRL side from 2014 to 2016, keeping new recruit Cook out of the starting No.9 jersey that year – but one had to make way.
McInnes left for the Dragons who he now captains with aplomb having earned their player of the year nod this season.
"It's been great to see Camo here," Cook told NRL.com.
"I was lucky enough to train alongside him at Souths and we had a really good relationship and really pushed each other there as well so it's great to see him doing so well especially now captaining the Dragons and he's deserved to be in Origin this year.
"It's great to be training alongside him again."
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McInnes had those leadership qualities from a young age, according to Cook, who was relishing the chance to swap tips with his old sparring partner.
"I noticed that as soon as I went to Souths and he led from the front too, he doesn't cut corners, he trains really hard and does his extras, leads by example.
"He's been a hooker for a few years, got put into lock this year and I thought he was outstanding.
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"He even got (the RLPA) players' champion lock of the year which just shows what a good quality player he is, he's a footballer and whatever he's asked to do he'll do so it's great to have him around."
Personally, Cook – who was clearly shattered after Souths' preliminary final loss to the Panthers – believed diving straight into Origin camp was the best remedy for that disappointment and said he was raring to go.
"It's probably been the best thing for it," he said.
"It was tough to lose that prelim again and it was obviously a hard couple of days after that but you can't think about that too much, you have to move on straight away and get your mindset right for Origin and it's been exciting to be in here with all the boys.
"There's no doubt after Origin is done the prelim will probably hit me a little bit again but for now the mindset is good and positive and ready to go."
Of the chance to meet some new players in what is a very new-look squad, Cook nominated Eels behemoth Junior Paulo as someone he was looking forward to playing alongside rather than confronting at club level.
"Junior is someone I'm really excited about, I've enjoyed watching him play this year, the skill he has, the footwork for a big man and the work he did for Parramatta," Cook said.
"Even when we played against him he was a threat to us so I'm really looking forward to playing alongside him as well as the other guys who've come in and been doing a good job."