Have NRL teams finally figured out how to quell the running brilliance of Damien Cook?
The South Sydney dummy-half has been kept quiet over the last fortnight with the Sydney Roosters and Brisbane shutting down the NSW Origin No.9 on their way to important wins.
On the eve of the finals, the explosive Rabbitohs No.9 has had his metres halved over the last two weeks – though the man himself says there’s more to his game than just running.
Cook has been arguably the most improved footballer of this year’s NRL, playing a leading hand in the Blues’ series win and is third favourite for the Dally M.
According to Fox Sports Stats, he has averaged 93 metres a game this year.
That’s well above any other hooker – with the Warriors’ Issac Luke (65m) and St George Illawarra’s Cameron McInnes (59m) trailing in his wake.
However against the Roosters and Broncos, he averaged just 58m and 53m respectively – by far his lowest run totals of the year.
“I guess they have been limited (the running metres in the last two weeks) but they’re still up,” Cook said.
“I guess they’re just not as good as what they have been at times.
“A lot of my work comes off the good forward pack I have, so I’ve got to make sure I get them around the park and I’m doing my job to bring myself into the game.
“One thing I don’t do is running for the sake of running, make sure it’s the right option for the team at the right time.”
Cook is now looking to put the icing on a career year with a grand final win with the Rabbitohs.
The 27-year-old has played in just two finals games – at Canterbury in 2015 when he was thrown into the side after a season-ending knee injury to Michael Lichaa in round 23.
“It did spur me on,” Cook said of his first taste of finals footy.
“We had some key injuries in good players going into the finals and we really believed we could have gone into the finals and won the comp that year.
“Playing those finals games, I’ll know what to expect.”