Damien Cook’s fitness crucial for NSW Blues due to depleted dummy-half options

When asked about the rake replacements after training on Monday, Cook nominated Parramatta’s Brown.

“‘Browny’ could probably jump in there, and he is built low to the ground like me,” Cook said.

Who replaces Damien Cook should he go down injured?Credit:Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

“He might have been told that. All the bench players have been told to be ready for anything. I think Browny may have even spent a bit of time there for City [Origin].

“The other option is to put Cody at dummy half, move Jack to five-eighth and Isaah Yeo into the centres. There are a few options.”

Cook is regarded as one of the fittest players in the game and among the most durable. He felt no extra pressure to stay healthy given how quickly the dummy-half stocks thin out.

Fittler knows he can cover every position – Wighton can play in the halves, Clint Gutherson can play fullback, even Angus Crichton played a World Club Challenge clash as a centre – but the No.9 is precious cargo. Murray was always considered the contingency plan, but injured his hamstring in Adelaide.


Such is his faith in Cook that Fittler ignored picking Penrith’s Api Koroisau in the extended squad with Cam McInnes the only recognised dummy-half in camp, but also someone who has been used more as a lock forward in recent times.

“I get a lot of confidence and belief out of the guys around me,” Cook said.

“I’ve simplified my game plan a lot. I understand I can use everyone around me. If you look at the talent here, my job is based on defending well, good execution, and if I see an opportunity to back myself. I’ve simplified that part of it.

“I’ve been pretty good [health wise]. I got a good whack to the nuts last week, but that was it. Munster scored a try, so it hurt even more. His ankle flicked up and got me.”

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