Stark reality about State of Origin hero's injury secret exposed

Andrew Reid
·3-min read
Pictured here, Damien Cook gets ready to pass the footy in State of Origin.
Damien Cook looked like needing surgery that would have kept him out of Origin Game II. Pic: Getty

He played a starring role for New South Wales in their big State of Origin Game II victory against Queensland, but Damien Cook's doctor says it was almost a miracle the hooker was even playing.

A nasty skin infection looked like ruling Cook out of the second match after he'd spent the night in hospital just 48 hours before kick-off.

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Blues coach Brad Fittler revealed Cook spent Monday night in Prince of Wales Hospital, waking up on match eve two hours away from teammates.

Cook was crucial for the Blues in the 34-10 flogging of Queensland, as they kept the series alive and sent it to a decider at Suncorp Stadium next Wednesday.

But it could easily have been a different story.

Cook was in and out of training over the weekend, and was limited to small drills on Monday morning before the call was made for him to leave the team's Wyong base.

He then remained in hospital all of Tuesday morning, as NSW began making back-up plans for Cameron McInnes to make his Origin debut at hooker.

What started as a boil on Cook's leg soon turned into cellulitis which caused a significant wound on his left leg.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Dr David Broe, revealed that he was set to perform surgery on Cook due to the alarming rate at which the infection had worsened.

However, the doctor said he was blown away by the speed at which Cook recovered in time to be right for Game II.

Doctor doubted Cook would be OK to play

“When I looked at him the infection was spreading all through his skin and up to his groin region,” Dr Broe said.

“I didn’t paint a particularly good picture.

“When I saw him initially I thought he would need 24-36 hours in hospital on a drip. If he wasn’t getting better in the morning I was making a decision that day to take him to the operating theatre. I couldn’t get over it when he turned a major corner.

“Given what he had been through over the previous week, it was a remarkable performance.”

Cook has vowed to give his NSW State of Origin jumper to his doctor after elaborating on what has been a particularly challenging week.

Damien Cook is seen celebrating NSW's win in Origin II.
Cook played a key role in the Blues' big win in Game II. Pic: Getty

"The worst case was if it kept spreading, they would have to really open it up and clean out the infection and pack it in," Cook said.

"I don't think he (Dr Broe) really wanted me to play Game II. We were just talking Game III.

"And Catt (Craig Catterick) our trainer just said he has to be at captain's run tomorrow at 2pm."

While it caused Cook discomfort in the lead up, he said the boil-like issue just felt like a cork on the field on Wednesday night.

It didn't stop him at all, as he chose his moments to run out of dummy-half before leaving the field with three minutes to go.

"He (Dr Broe) wasn't too confident (I'd play). But he was hopeful ... that the antibiotics would work. I didn't want to miss it for that," Cook said.

"Woke up the next morning and he was amazed with it, gave it the all clear to go.

"He will be getting this jersey, I have already told Cat that. He was Irish and before he left me that night I said the luck of the Irish.

"He laughed and it worked. Dr Broe and Catt, they are the ones that got me here."

with AAP

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