Cook sees hard hooking life with one ref

Scott Bailey
Speedy dummy half runners like Damien Cook my be disadvantaged by the NRL's one referee system

Hookers will find it harder to dart out of dummy-half with a slower ruck speed and markers moving early with just one referee, according to Damien Cook.

Cook's game has the potential to be impacted as much as anyone's by new rules brought in by the NRL on Wednesday night, given he is the game's best runner out of dummy-half.

The change will see the eradication of the pocket referee for 2020, with just one central on-field official.

Sideline roles will now also be filled by full-time referees rather than touch judges on casual pay, saving the game millions and stopping any referees from being made redundant.

But there are concerns over what impact it will have on the game.

Aaron Woods and David Klemmer have both spoken this week about the ability to wrestle more in Test football, where just one referee is used.

And South Sydney's Cook, who made his Test debut for Australia last year, said that experience had taught him how hard life can be for No.9s.

"You've definitely got to adapt to it," he said.

"I went into the ruck a bit jumpy and get caught. Because the ref is not able to watch everything.

"Sometimes markers are able to get away with a bit more and be able to get onto the opposing hooker.

"It was about picking the right times and waiting for those quicker play-the-balls because obviously you can get away with a bit more in Test footy.

"You can probably get away with a bit more to slow down the play the ball."

The NRL is however confident its new six-again rule for ruck infringements can deter the wrestle.

Under the rule, referees will immediately wave six again rather than stop play for a penalty, however they will have the power to penalise or sin bin for repeated infringements.

Cook, like many others, can see merit in that change but would rather it be trialled first before being brought into the NRL.

However he can understand that in the game's time of need, why it would be rushed in.

"I definitely think it needs to be trialled at junior or reserve grade levels, but we don't have that this year," Cook said.

"It's a big decision to make, we have all been through a lot in the recent months. If there is a time to do it, now maybe is."