Damien Cook says he is staying fully focused on State of Origin for now but negotiations over a new contract with South Sydney have started.
The Rabbitohs hooker is under contract until the end of 2023. However he would be free to accept a contract elsewhere for 2024 from 1st November this year. There would be no shortage of interest, but Cook only has eyes for Souths.
This despite the fact they face an uncertain future. The Rabbitohs made the grand final in 2021 but have slipped down the ladder this season.
Super coach Wayne Bennett has moved on. Adam Reynolds was allowed to leave and there is the prospect of other star players moving on.
Cody Walker is another player that will be off-contract at the end of 2023. Speculation has suggested both Walker and Cook could follow Reynolds out of the exit door.
However Cook says he hopes that will not be the case and he would like to stay. Much will now depend on the length of the contract on offer. That was the problem with Reynolds who ended up accepting a three-year deal with Brisbane.
Reports say Souths are ready to offer Cook a two-year extension until the end of 2025. That would take him up to the age of 34 and again it is claimed the player would be happy with that.
Now the deal just needs to be hammered out and signed. But do not expect any developments while Origin is on. Cook is not expected to start in game two in Perth on Sunday. But he says he is focusing on his footy rather than contracts.
South Sydney start contract talks
“They have started, I spoke to my manager a couple of weeks ago before Origin started because I didn’t want anything to do with it while this was happening,” Cook told the Daily Telegraph. “I also spoke to the coach as well and the club, so they know where I want to be.
“I love the club, they know that so now I can just leave it between the club and the management. He’ll keep me updated but I have told him not to tell me anything during camp and to keep it to himself.”
South Sydney sit in seventh place on the ladder with a 7-7 win-loss ratio. There is work to do to secure their place in finals but they have not been helped with injuries either.
Latrell Mitchell has been missing for long periods with a hamstring injury. The gun fullback is now set to return and Souths will be hoping to mount a charge up the ladder.