Damien Cook, the South Sydney star, is willing to give Tino Fa’asuamaleaui the benefit of the doubt amidst the ongoing debate over the Queensland enforcer’s controversial running style. While Fa’asuamaleaui is considered one of the best props in the game, there are conflicting opinions from coaches, experts, and players on the legality of his technique. The Titans skipper was fined for dangerous contact in a match against the Bulldogs last month, and he recently broke the jaw of NSW player Api Koroisau with a similar movement. Cook, who faced Fa’asuamaleaui in round 14, has no issues tackling him so far.
The incident involving Koroisau’s injury means Cook will be back in the State of Origin squad after missing out on selection for the previous game. Cook admitted that he wouldn’t have played if Koroisau hadn’t been injured, emphasising the unfortunate impact of the injury on both the NSW team and the Tigers. Cook expressed sympathy for Koroisau and acknowledged the positive momentum the Tigers were building before the injury.
Opinions are divided on whether Fa’asuamaleaui should have been suspended, but he firmly believes he has done nothing wrong. Cook acknowledges that determining the appropriate penalties is a challenge, similar to the hip-drop tackle issue. He believes experts should assess whether a suspension is necessary and points out that many front-rowers consider it their technique to achieve quick play the balls without intending to cause harm.
Cook is eager to face Fa’asuamaleaui and the Maroons forward pack, as he aims to help level the series after being left out of the first game. His resilience and ability to overcome setbacks have been praised by his teammate Cam Murray, who is thrilled to have Cook back in the State of Origin team.