He was supposed to flourish under the NRL’s radical six-again rule.
Instead Damien Cook admits the changes have dramatically tightened up opposition defences, leaving him in search of his first line break of the season.
The South Sydney star has yet to have the impact many expected since the game’s resumption, with the increase in fatigue decreasing his output in attack.
He managed to record his first line break assist in Saturday’s win over Gold Coast, snapping a three-game Rabbitohs losing streak.
“Obviously there’s going to be a lot more quick play-the-balls and it’s going to look like there’s a lot more space at times as well,” Cook said on Tuesday.
“But for me, I don’t want to overplay my hand.
“If anything, it’s actually tightened up the defensive line in the middle and there’s a lot more work going on both sides of the ball as well.”
Cook said he understands why some thought he’d enjoy the faster game.
“There’s definitely going to be times when it’s going to be my game but when it’s not I’ve just got to make sure I do my part for the team,” he said.
Rabbitohs players are adamant that as opposition teams hone in on blunting Cook’s attack, it will create holes for their galaxy of stars on the edges.
The NSW State of Origin hooker is just waiting to pick his moments.
“Sometimes those games are going to happen where I get a lot of joy,” he said.
“And there’s other ones where it’s going to be quite tight in the middle and us forwards have got to lay the platform and let our outside backs do their job.”
Souths’ backline is expected to get another boost this weekend when James Roberts makes a welcome return since checking himself into a rehabilitation clinic during the coronavirus-enforced lockdown.
Cook revealed the former Blues centre made the call to sit out in recent weeks.
“For him last week, he knew he wasn’t quite match-fit or ready to go… which shows the maturity of Jimmy as well, to not be ready to come back yet,” he said.
“Whenever he is ready to come back, we’ll be very welcoming and we look forward to having him back out there because he can change the game.”