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Head-2-Head: An international rivalry looms

The South Sydney Rabbitohs take on the Canberra Raiders tomorrow in a match littered with epic individual clashes, but there is one that stands to be more intriguing than the rest.

Rabbitohs dummy-half Damien Cook has had one hell of a year, going from strength to strength at Club level and also earning a State of Origin call-up where he played a pivotal role in securing an NSW Blues Series win.

Cook's exploits this season have him right in the mix for an Australian Kangaroos call-up due to the retirement of long-standing captain Cameron Smith.

If Cook's is rewarded with an Australian jumper, this weekend may provide a sneak-peak into a struggle between two dominant hookers on the world stage, as Cook looks to get the edge over Raiders and England international Josh Hodgson. Having played each other just once so far in their careers, the match on Saturday could spell the beginning of a new rivalry at both national and potentially international levels.

Hodgson, an intelligent and consistent dummy-half, has played a big part for both the Raiders and England since moving to the NRL in 2015.


While not having the blinding pace that Cook possesses, Hodgson's game management, leadership and kicking game is up there with the best in the game.

Both players provide an X-factor for their respective teams, which will be on show when the two come head to head.

For Souths, Cook has been lightning out of dummy half, providing plenty of attacking threat through the ruck and capitalising on the performances of the Rabbitohs big men in the middle.

From a standing start, Cook has run a whopping 1,613 metres from 141 runs making him the leading metre eater from dummy-half.


It's been a tough year for the Raiders' number 9, who missed half the season due to injury. Hodgeson's leadership and attacking nouse were sorely missed at the beginning of the year, as the Raiders would repeatedly come up short in a series of narrow defeats.

Returning in Round 15 from an ACL injury, Hodgson made an immediate difference to the side from the nation's capital, chipping in with a try, six try assists and five linebreak assists.

While Cook hasn't gotten the international call-up yet, the match-up with his opposite number could be a precursor to a new positional rivalry that could be a feature on the international stage for years to come.

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