Cook believes he has the ingredients for Origin success
Damien Cook says he is playing better football now than leading into State of Origin last year, as he prepares for a showdown with NSW No.9 rival Apisai Koroisau.
Last season Cook lost his starting hooker role for the first time since his 2018 debut, bumped back to the bench for the final two games, with Koroisau picked at No.9.
Questions remain over whether NSW will employ a similar tactic this year, or instead overlook one of the pair and go with Nicho Hynes as a play-making utility at No.14.
Two weeks out from selection, Cook does not want to dwell on his chances.
However, the reality is Saturday afternoon's clash between South Sydney and Wests Tigers looms as the most crucial in the battle for the No.9 jersey.
And with the Rabbitohs emerging as one of the NRL's front-runners over the opening 10 games, Cook believes he is playing better now than at this point last year.
"Yes, I think so. There (are) good parts of my game I am growing. I am happy with where I am at, at the moment," he said.
"I'm working closely with the likes of Sam (Burgess), Johnny Morris and Ben Hornby too, to keep growing my game and little parts I can add to it.
"I'm picking my moments, (making) good decisions (better).
"As a hooker (I'm) just making sure the service is good and strong.
"That's where my game starts, trying to limit the errors that are around me.
"The other one for me is discipline."
Cook said he could see merit in NSW playing with either one or two hookers, but did not want to be drawn into the debate of the best make-up of Brad Fittler's side for May 31 in Adelaide.
"It all depends on how you look at it," he said.
"There were two hookers for Queensland last year and two hookers for NSW.
"Cam Smith played on his own for a long time.
"We had one hooker for a couple of years as well.
"It's whatever way they want to go, and we trust the selectors to do that job, and if you get there that is when your full focus goes to NSW and what the team needs."
Queensland forward and South Sydney teammate Jai Arrow believes NSW would be better served picking a second hooker off the bench.
"You have to take into account that Origin footy is very tiring,'' Arrow said.
"It is played on a lot of emotion and you can get fatigued pretty quick.
"When you interchange those two No.9s, and have a fresh hooker coming on who is a running hooker, and both (Koroisau and Cook) are runners, it's hard to contain."