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Cook holds his own against impeccable Rabbitohs production line

Let's not beat around the bush. South Sydney Rabbitohs hooker Damien Cook is a damn good footy player and his 2018 season form shows that.

Taking out the Dally M hooker of the year, representing NSW in State of Origin to now where he made his Australian Kangaroos debut.

However, Cook isn't just winning awards and playing rep footy, he is also holding aloft the standard set by the incredible dummy-half talent that has come off the South Sydney production line.

Ever since 1908, the South Sydney Rabbitohs have produced some of the best number nines in Rugby League.

Think of a Rabbitohs hooker and about half a dozen names come up. If there's one position on the Rugby League field South Sydney has dominated in terms of producing talent - it's the number nine.

Souths Juniors President Keith McCraw has seen plenty of local number nines rise through the ranks, and cited the importance of the hooker in the makeup of a Rugby League team.

"What we call our 'spine' - our dummy-halves, halves, locks and fullbacks - great teams always have a good one," Mr McCraw said.

"It's a critical position in the modern game. We're a top-four Club now so you've got to have a top-line number nine, which we have."

In 2018 Damien Cook has blown away the opposition with his explosive acceleration and speed, re-modelling the role in his own way like many of the talented hookers before him.

The Club has had an incredible depth of talent right from the very beginning.

In the 1920s and 1930s, sides that earned the moniker 'The Pride of the League', had four classy number nines, Eddie Root, Alf O'Connor, Jack Peterson and Archie Thompson, all of which has to share the Club' Premiership success.


In the 1950's Golden Era came junior product Ernie Hammerton, who played hooker in the Club's premiership successes in 1950, 1951, 1953, 1954 and 1955, as well as featuring for NSW on six occasions and playing one game for Australia.

The late 1960's saw the emergence of Elwyn Walters and George Piggins - two of the toughest hombres to ever grace a Rugby League field - both finishing their careers as international players and premiership winners for the Red and Green.


The next few decades would produce the likes of Mario Fenech, Jim Serdaris, Sean Garlick, and currently, there are seven NRL Clubs with a hooker that has had some form of involvement with the Rabbitohs - whether that be as a junior, playing first grade or playing through the grades.

Add Club favourite, Issac Luke, into the mix and you have yourself a mighty fine collection of South Sydney dummy-halves.


While McCraw has another famous name on his mind when it comes to picking his favourite man from in front of the scrum, he also believes that the Kangaroos' hooker has raised the bar.

"In my time if I had to single one out it would have to be Mario Fenech," he said.


But they're all different - George Piggins was tough as teak, Elwyn Walters was a great hooker. Those three were all pretty good in their position.

"In Damien's case, you can tell he's a very different hooker. He's more-or-less revolutionising the role players such as Clive Churchill and Billy Slater did with the fullback role," Mr McCraw explained.


"He's really made it his own in relation to his speed and awareness of the opposition because of his capabilities coming out from dummy-half.

"They've all been very good defenders and always prepared to put their body on the line. Damien is no different, regardless of how big or strong his opponent is, he always puts himself in front of them and he always ends up with a high tackle count, even though they're smaller men."


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