The big sacrifice helping McInnes deal with Origin hype

Scott Bailey

To the best of State of Origin hopeful Cameron McInnes' knowledge, there is no shootout between he and Damien Cook for the NSW No.9 jersey.

Nor does he know Apisai Koroisau has fallen out of contention, or that Nathan Peats - the fourth of the group to have worn a South Sydney jersey - is considered no chance of retaining the spot.

That's because 24-year-old McInnes - once potentially in the category of rugby league nerd - made the unusual call last year to shut off from the digital and NRL worlds.

"I'm a bit of a hermit in that way ... I don't have social media, read the papers or watch the news," McInnes said.

"You know how you feel yourself on your phone all the time? I just got sick of it and decided it wasn't healthy.

"I used to watch every game every week. I'd read all the magazines, watch all the shows and everything like that.

"It was footy 24-7, reading and watching everything. It was just too much.

"I just find now that I can keep my head away a bit and focus on what I need to."

Never has that decision been more crucial than this year.

Whether McInnes knows it or not, his battle with Cook has been one of the talking points of the NRL for the past two months.

In recent weeks Cook appears to have drawn narrowly in front.

Dragons star Cameron McInnes has been one of the form hookers in 2018. Pic: Supplied

With Cameron Smith's retirement likely to mean the Blues opt against a specialist dummy-half on the bench, the Bunnies' rake has gone to another level.

But McInnes has his advantages. Both strong running out of dummy-half, the Dragon is considered slightly sounder defensively early.

And his ignorance to the situation means he won't be distracted before the top-of-the-table clash with Penrith that could decide his fate.

"I'm not going into a game thinking there is James Tamou, if I can do well against him Freddy (Fittler) will be happy," McInnes said.

"Footy is easy to tell if someone's not playing for the right reasons. It's going to stick out and it's not going to get you into teams."

The battle between Cook and McInnes is symbolic of how far both have come.

Two years ago they were battling for Souths' No.9 jersey, before Michael Maguire made the call to recruit Robbie Farah.

It should have been a blow to both of them.

Instead, McInnes moved on and made his name at the table-topping Dragons and Cook beat out Farah for an 80-minute role.

"If it is a two-horse race, as you're explaining, it's not weird, it's a good thing," McInnes said.

"Because he is a good person and for him to have that success is good.

"And I'm loving it here at the Dragons, so it's worked out well for everyone."