South Sydney Rabbitohs hooker Damien Cook has heaped praise on Latrell Mitchell before their showdown with rivals Sydney Roosters claiming the star fullback has become the “go-to” player at Redfern.
The Rabbitohs will play their first home game of the season against the Roosters at Stadium Australia on Friday night and the battle between Mitchell and Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues fullback James Tedesco will be worth the price of a ticket alone.
“I think they’re two very different fullbacks. What Teddy does, he’s been a great player as fullback, one of the best players in the world for a while, especially in that position,” Cook said.
“I think what we can all see is how well Latrell started the season off this year, he knows his role at fullback now and he’s our go-to.
“With him on the field we know we’re a chance of winning every game and that’s the same feeling I used to get with Greg (Inglis) and Sam (Burgess) running out alongside them.”
Both players have started the season in scintillating form with Mitchell, who won two premierships at the Roosters before switching clubs, managing two tries in two games, two try assists, 15 tackle breaks, and 166 run metres.
Tedesco, who won two premierships alongside Mitchell at the Roosters and boasts a Dally M Award, Wally Lewis Medal and Brad Fittler Medal, has also been in red-hot form to start the season after scoring five tries and averaging 174 run metres.
Cook said he had been impressed by Mitchell’s development at Redfern, which saw him switch from centre to the No.1 jumper.
“I think he’s grown as a player massively over the last 12 months,” Cook said.
“I think he’s in well control of his emotions and the footy he’s been playing lately will do the talking for him.”
Cook is also wary of Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues player Luke Keary, who was electric at five-eighth for the Roosters against Wests Tigers on Sunday after helping engineer a 40-6 win.
“Keary’s been one of the most dominant players in the game for a long time now and he’s definitely running the show there at the Roosters so he’s one to watch,” Cook said.
“The thing with Luke Keary is he just plays eyes up footy - you don’t know whether he’s swinging down the short side or putting a cross-field kick on the other side so wherever he is it’s a good chance that’s where the ball will be.
“After that first game I’m looking to improve wherever I can and I know if I can just get our forwards going through the middle that’s when our spine does our best work once we get a bit of momentum, so hopefully we can take that game plan into this weekend’s game.”