Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Since 2018 Damien Cook has been irreplaceable as the New South Wales State of Origin hooker.
It is no coincidence that since he made his Origin debut the Blues have won three of the past four series.
He is a stalwart of the Brad Fittler era and will undoubtedly go down in history as a New South Wales legend.
However, in the lead up to this year’s State of Origin series there have been calls by many for Cook to lose his spot due to a downturn in form at his NRL club side the South Sydney Rabbitohs with Penrith’s Apisai Koroisau the new preference for most to play in the number nine for the Blues.
Koroisau was selected on Brad Fittler’s extended bench but was released from camp to play for the Panthers in their win over the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs on Friday night.
Despite the calls for him to be dropped, Cook has stated he is not feeling any pressure at all and gave his thoughts on Queensland hookers Ben Hunt and Harry Grant heading into tomorrow’s big game when speaking to NRL 360.
Key changes to the judiciary process will come into play on Wednesday — aimed at trying to keep players in the biggest games of the year without loosening the rules on foul play. 📝#Origin
— NRL (@NRL) June 6, 2022
“Not feeling pressure at all, I see myself as an 80-minute player,” said Cook.
“Obviously touch wood no injuries or anything like that but they have normally had a couple of hookers each time as well, it is just the style of play they [Queensland] have gone for.
“I really like Ben Hunt at nine as well, he has got a great kicking game and he is going to try and use that to swing momentum, then Harry obviously will do his thing when he comes on.”
Cook also touched on the speculation that Stephen Crichton will start over Jack Wighton in the centres for New South Wales.
“Nothing has been confirmed, as far as we know Freddy has said Jack Wighton is starting there, when we are in training going through sets and we all swap in and change… everyone changes into different positions.”
Tomorrow night will be Cook’s 13th Origin appearance as he looks to become a four-time series winner with the Blues in 2022.