GOSFORD, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 21: Damien Cook of the Rabbitohs in action during the round seven NRL match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Canberra Raiders at Central Coast Stadium on April 21, 2018 in Gosford, Australia. (Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)

Wayne Bennett’s first real move since joining the Rabbitohs was to sign Damien Cook to a long-term contract at the club.

The deal, worth a supposed $4.5 million over five years, ensures that the current Australia and Origin number nine will be at the club until the end of 2023 at least.

The monster deal has put an end to the speculation that would have gathered momentum with every day a contract remained un-signed, that Cook could be persuaded to shift clubs.

With Cam Smith entering the final year(s) of his career, it’s arguable that Cook is now the game’s premier number nine.

His running out in green and gold with the No.9 across his back puts him in elite company, with perhaps only Canberra’s Josh Hodgson in the argument.

The current Dally M hooker of the year attracted reported massive offers elsewhere, with the likes of the Knights and Eels linked.

Truthfully I thought Cook was a near certainty to win the Dally M award last season after a brilliant season for both the Bunnies and the Blues. I even named him Zero Tackle’s player of the year and believe he was, at worst, the second best player in his debut Origin series.

I was really surprised to see negativity follow the announcement of his new deal across social media.

If I were the Bunnies I would have moved heaven and earth to ensure the number one No.9 in the game stayed in red and green for the rest of his career.

That said, there are a few factors that warrant discussion as to whether or not this deal is a potential mistake.

The argument against the deal

Most of the talk against the mega deal seems to come via comparisons to ‘similar’ style number nines and their inability to continue their progress after a career-best year.

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Some have pointed to the fact that running dummy halves such as James Segeyaro and Jake Granville were ‘found out’ once their game plan was worked out and defensive adjustments made.

Cook was much less influential toward the second half of the season due to natural fatigue and the supposed end of the penalty blitz crack down.

When the ruck was being scrutinised to extremes, Cook was able to bust holes in the defence was incredible ease.

The thinking is that opposition coaches are now prepared and can instruct their players to defend accordingly.

There’s also the fact that Cook is now 27 years of age. He’s not old by any stretch, especially given the late start to his first grade career, so I don’t really buy into this argument.

That said, the main advantage in his game is his blistering speed. Naturally players tend to slow down as they hit 30 or so.

That’s not to say he will, but he’ll be on almost a million dollars in the year he turns 32. I can see an argument as to why that’s risky.

The other major argument is his inexperience. Despite being 27 he has only played 74 NRL games. He’s only had the one genuine season as first choice hooker, and two/three more seasons sharing the role.

Who knows how he will react to a drop in form, an injury or being targeted in defence.

The argument for it being a great deal

I can see merit to the above arguments but the fact is the Bunnies had to do whatever was needed to secure the services of the best number nine in the game.

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If he has signed this contract for the Sharks I would have injured myself attempting to do a back flip in celebration.

Cook was the biggest name off contract (that may have signed away, I’m not counting Cam Smith or Cooper Cronk who won’t move clubs) and now the Bunnies don’t have to worry about him being poached for five seasons.

He’s 27. 27! It’s not like he’s turning 32 next season. He will be 32 at the end of this contract. Sure, he may get injured, he may slow down, but you can’t make judgements based on ‘he might get injured’.

Every player in the game could get injured on any given day.

Cook is far from a one trick pony. Yes, he’s quick and the best running number nine in the competition. He also kicks, tackles his backside off, and has a brilliant passing game.

Cam Smith aside, there is no number nine I’d rather have in my side, and being so much younger, right now I’d be taking Cook every day of the week.

He’s also signed an extension and an upgrade, meaning that the Bunnies are paying less than a million dollars a season for a genuine marquee player.

Every club in the game is going to have two million dollar players in the spine within the next year or so. A few clubs aside most clubs already do.

I have no doubt in the world that the Knights or Eels would have offered Cook a million a season.


He’s worth every cent. The Bunnies have signed arguably the game’s best player for the next half-decade.

Only rugby league fans can find negative in that.


  1. A great deal, we’ll done rabbits for locking him up! I played footy with him and against him for a few years, it’s been good to see him succeed! One day I’ll show my kids videos and dvd’s of him tearing us apart 😂
    Also well done to cookie for his hard work and achievements 🤙🏻

  2. Alright so firstly, Cooper Cronk wasn’t off contract this off season so that’s just incorrect. Secondly, the reasons why I don’t support the deal are simple.

    It’s a lot to pay over a long time for someone who may prove to be a one-season wonder. Souths will really be up sh*t creek if that proves to be the case.
    Furthermore, you only need to watch the Easts v Souths prelim last season to see how easy it is to find him out. All coaches need to do is watch that footage and they can figure him out, unless he drastically changes his play. Also, his game is built off strong forwards laying a platform he can exploit. With a significant amount of their cap going to Cook, the money may not be there for the forwards. Sam Burgess turned 30 yesterday, not going to be a spring chicken over the next 5 years.
    And by the time he’s 32, he will have well and truly lost a yard of pace. That’s his main asset. Anything going wrong for Souths brings me great joy, and I’ll admit that this has me excited…

    • You’re mistaken mate.

      Cook wasn’t off contract this year either. Souths already had him locked up for 2019. They signed a contact EXTENSION. So the author was not incorrect in comparing Cook’s situation to Cooper Cronk.

    • Spot on Sydneyroosta, the chooks exposed him 4 weeks out from the semis when the Roosters defeated Souffths 18-14, then repeated the same dose in the preliminary final. Cook will find out the weak defensive sides in the comp but against big gun teams he will be bottled up very very easily.

      Personally I thing he is a classic Ewen McGrady type one season wonder. Time will tell of course and by mid season souffths followers will be complaining that he got his money and is not producing, a carbon copie of Manly fans when he will be Souffths Cherry-Evens over priced nitwit.

      Liam Knight being purchased by the rabbit, shows me that Bennett will be loking to off load the useless Burgess twins up front to free up money for other players in his plans. There will be no pay rise and extensions for over priced Burgess props😁😆😂🤣😂😆😁

  3. The new super coach will find ways to take the pressure off Cook and change his style of play but make him just as effective. His so-called $950K contract will probably be registered at $600K with the remainder ($200K in TPS and $100K in a paper bag a la other clubs). If Souths didn’t re-sign him other clubs would have fought over him for much more. Great Signing.

  4. No doubt Cook signing needed to be done.

    His season and selection in the Aust team and SOO proves he is no one season wonder, his ability includes many good things in his game, his defence is awesome, plus his service to his backs is excellent, his running game is the best in the league.

    His game won’t diminish through time, if anything will only get better, plus the salary cap will go up as well , so it will prove a good signing has time goes by.

    The fact teams worked him out, or at least that is the theory, because the forwards wearn’t being dominant, so tell me a hooker who can perform when their forwards are not playing well? Stupid comments from people here, when Souths forwards play well he can be lethal , plus teams who drop off for an instance , he makes them pay big time.

    Great signing cause he is a true professinal who looks after his body and will be the Aus , SOO hooker for many years to come. Glory glory

    • “Tell me a hooker who can perform when forwards aren’t dominant “.

      Whilst I agree, there was one exception when in 2005 the tigers had one of the smallest packs but Farrar shone.

      This was amplified by Benji and Scott Prince with their dynamic, “bodies in motion” set plays, and the orgestration of Tim Sheens. Plays that changed the way forty is played today… I believe.

      This saw the West tigers win their maiden premiership.
      That plus the implosion of unbackable favorites parra and dragons in the finals.

  5. Exactly. If your pack is not on top you have no chance, Souths forwards were gone by the time we played Easts. Melbourne game and Saints game killed them. You cannot win comp when your reward for top 4 is game in Melbourne.

  6. Disclaimer: I’m not a Souths fan

    Agree he is a great resigning for Souths. Yes he is only one serious injury away from potentially not great value for money, but that applies to any player who has ever laced a boot.
    I feel he has the ability and mental attitude to continue to be the best hooker in the game.( Cam Smith is well past his best ) , and hookers are more crucial to the teams spine than halfbacks are now. They certainly do more work, so in my opinion they are worth more $ than any other positions on the field. Being a bit older just means his body is more mature and can handle the heavy stuff better than a 20 yo kid could.. He’s got the smarts and maturity to be a big star for years to come. He actually reminds me of a faster version of Danny Buderus, but probably needs to play another 100 first grade games to be regarded in that class, but he has the potential to get there IMO.

  7. I think that’s a pretty simple, yes, it was a good deal.
    $900k, which in the context of the current salary cap is less than 10%, for the Australian hooker in his prime is easily worth the punt, on a medium term contract at least.
    As for the 5 year term, well I can understand that’s a risk, and can be a big risk for a lot of players, even excluding the injury aspect, but in Cook’s case, he’s not just playing for the money and will 100%, especially for the Bunnies.
    It looks like a no brainer to me.

  8. Could not be happier for D.C. This bloke has everything, to have a break out year at 27 says a lot about him.
    He has been through the mill to get this pay day and he deserves every cent. Great example to all the young blokes out there,dont give up stick with it work hard and the result will come your way.
    I hope he is the blues and roos 9 for the next 5 years.

  9. Cook signing is great for Bunnies…..offers long term stability, with the current best number 9 in the NRL
    On top of comments made here Cooky like many quality hookers is capable back in the halves but also has the ability to cover the fullback position if needed. (not many hookers can or have been able to do that)?
    Yes any large contract can be a concern….Cook is no different and yes he will be 32 by the time the contract is up.
    If he is a yard or two slower by then im sure he will modify his running / passing game to suit

    • If you’re paying your hooker 900K a year, you are not going to be using him to cover other positionss if you have injuries.

      • Actually u could as he’s running game could be just destructive from fullback
        As for back to backs sexist comment nothing new hear as he continues to show his arrogance, ignorance and hatred of women for all to see…..haha

        • Surprised you could hear my comment.

          Why not play Inglis in the front row when somebody gets injured? He has the size hahaha see how stupid you are?

        • I’ve got no doubt that he could slot into fullback and do the job with no issues,
          I was more looking at it in that you wouldn’t move your established Origin and Australian representative hooker into another role just to cover an injury. That would be weakening one position to strengthen another which is generally a big no no in League.
          If you had yourself another quality hooker that could slot in and do as good a job however, then it could be possible, but as I see it, they don’t.

          As for Back2back19, seriously? Just leave your juvenile comments to yourself. They have no place on a forum for adults.

        • No need for sexist comments or unnecessary attacks though is there? Rabbit Crazy is entitled to their opinion as much as you are, or anyone else. You don’t have to agree, but how about providing a counter opinion rather than just attacking?

        • My counter opinion was why can’t inglis play front row when somebody gets injured? He has the size or when the dragons get an injury to there backline, they could bring in frizzell he has the speed?

          Who seriously thinks to move the nsw/Australian hooker out of position?

        • That’s fine, I actually agree with you on that, there is no way I would be moving Cook to fullback either. My point was more about the unnecessary attacks, and sexist comments.

        • She has called me princess on multiple comments, I didn’t you heroes jump in calling her sexist?

          Jog on eels47 nobody likes a hero.

        • Who cares if they haven’t played the game? That has no bearing on being able to have an opinion on a topic to do with the game.

          “Rabbit crazy is a women, of course she would say something stupid like that” And there it is, you inferring that the validity of the comment is based around the sex of the person giving it.

          Not being a hero, I just prefer this site when people actually talk about footy and have some fun with each other. Personal attacks are not necessary. I missed the comments calling you a princess, as I haven’t been frequenting the site as much as I used to given all of the rubbish that is currently clogging up the comments.

      • Hi Beastie……i take your point ….i was only trying to say that he is capable of covering fullback as well and has actually played there a couple of times . I wouldnt be advocating it but it is just another string to his bow so to speak.
        Thanks for you support but its typical of back2back19 he has made many offensive bullying comments and a few totally derogatory ones to women in general.
        Hates to think anyone else can have a thought or opinion
        He thinks he can bully people in general….it wont worry me at all i will say what i want and pay no attention …..actually quite amusing listening to his garbage….lol
        Funnily enough i have had several conversations over the years with people with a vast experience playing league at all levels and more than once ive heard it said that GI would make a great LOCK FORWARD if ever he wanted to move into the pack….because of his size, speed, defence & ball skills…….unlike my critic im not suggesting it but it might well be possible if GI wanted to do it.
        I personally prefer him at fullback

  10. LMAO he chocked in the semi final vs Roosters & he also choked playing for Australia in the loss against the Kiwis. one season wonder at best

    • You would have him in a heart beat rooster, and you know it, explain then why Easts/ Polites made enquires about his feelings coming to the Roosters, obviously he didn’t want to go there, can’t blame him, so if he did , what, throw your co captain and hooker under a bus, typical Easts don’t give a rats about anybody other than themselves.

      • Atleast if he came to the rooster he would get a premiership under his belt, the rabbits are still 26 years away from another premiership.

        Wonder what round inglises knees will go this year?

  11. Penso the Roosters are the premiers and it hurts doesn’t it

    And as for Cook top player but top coaches always workout how to limit their impact

    It’s the champion players that show the way and most times dominate the on field until Father Time catches up

  12. Whilst I understand the reasons against the signing, I agree that it was a no brainer. If Souths didn’t tie him up they would have had to enter a bidding war to keep him.

    One thing is certain, he will have to continue to develop and grow his game to remain effective, so hopefully Clint still has it in him to adapt.

  13. I’m not a fan of any of these massive, multi year deals, to be honest. To me, there should also be a cap on the amount of money a team can spend on a player. I very much dislike reading about clubs dumping massive chunks of their money in one player, who can easily be unluckily rubbed out for a season.

    Cook.. he is good when he is good, but like so many not absolute pinnacle players, he can just go missing in a game. I don’t play, so I don’t understand the mechanics, but there are times when he has next to no running game. It just doesn’t happen – and Cook is there to run. He isn’t the only hooker who does it – I imagine it is fatigue, which is fair enough – but it exacerbates the situation.

  14. There is no real negative argument here. Every club has a player that they don’t want to lose. In South’s case Cook was perhaps their best player last season . You can’t not pay your best player what he’s worth or not re-sign him. Then hope he doesn’t do well at whatever club he signs for. If any club worked by that theory, they’d never keep any good player that they had in their squad.

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