Damien Cook has made public his deep disappointment and frustration after being denied a contract extension by the Rabbitohs, effectively ending his nine-year association with the club as he prepares to join the St George-Illawarra Dragons next season.

In a candid interview with The Daily Telegraph, Cook shared the emotional toll of breaking the news to his teammates, describing it as "probably the hardest thing I've ever had to do in football."

He admitted to being taken aback by learning of the decision not to extend his time at the Rabbitohs through his manager rather than directly from the club itself.

Accor Stadium

Cook sought clarification and advice from incoming 2025 South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett, who supported his decision to prioritise his family's interests.

"He wasn't trying to push me out," Cook stated.

"Wayne told me to do what's best for me and my family."

Cook will return to the Dragons which is where he debuted 2013, playing two games before moving to the Bulldogs on a two year deal in 2014. He has been a Rabbitoh since 2016.

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While now resolved and excited about his impending move, Cook remains committed to finishing his Souths career on a positive note under interim coach Ben Hornby.

"There's no doubt we can go on a run when all our players are back," he said.

"[Hornby] is doing a great job. There's a lot of footy left and I want to go out on a high and make the most out of my last few months at the club."