South Sydney will be stronger for NRL elimination final, says Damien Cook

Friday’s night’s hammering against the Roosters was tough to take. But Damien Cook knows the cavalry is coming for South Sydney’s upcoming elimination final.

The cavalry is coming for a South Sydney side who Damien Cook says plays better with their backs against the wall.

To bolster a Rabbitohs side smarting from Friday night’s 30-6 belting from the Roosters, Sam Burgess will return from suspension for their elimination finals match while Dane Gagai and Kyle Turner are expected to come back from injuries.

Tom and George Burgess also featured in their first games for months.

Souths need to bounce back in week two of the NRL finals.
Souths need to bounce back in week two of the NRL finals.

Cook needs the Burgess brothers firing to open up his running game from dummy half after the Roosters shut him down like they did in last year’s preliminary finals match.

“The Burgess boys got a few minutes under them,” Cook said. “Sam comes back as well. He is one of the best players in the game. It’s good to have him back.

“Personally he is very good for me. As a team — he is one of the best leaders in the game. Good to have Gags (Gagai) back who has played for his state and country.

“Having him gives us more strike on the edge.”

Cook said the side will not to look too far to overcome their horrific performance on Friday night. The Rabbitohs were blown off the park early as the Roosters raced to a 26-0 lead.

The Kangaroos hooker said his side have thrived in pressure situations this year.

“There have been a few times at Souths this year when we had our backs to the wall and we’ve come out (and played well) like last week we beat the Roosters,” Cook said.

“This week it was a different game. It’s not like they are unbeatable. Finals are different — sudden-death footy.

“We are in that some position when we went up to play the Broncos. We would’ve fallen out of the top four if we didn’t win that game. We have to bounce back. It’s do or die from now on.

“We earnt the right for a second chance being in the top four. All we can do is make the most of it.”

It was a tough night at the office for the Rabbitohs.
It was a tough night at the office for the Rabbitohs.

South Sydney players were quick to talk down the prospect of having any scars from Friday’s qualifying finals defeat.

Cook met with coach Wayne Bennett during the team’s recovery session yesterday to thrash out where he needed to improve so he could reset his mind.

“Once I’ve got that I’ll get closure on the game, put it to bed and then move on to the next one,” he said.

“The quicker the better. I’ll get it done … Have a couple of days off, get your mind right and start again.

“We didn’t match their intensity. That’s where the Roosters won the game, especially in the first 20 minutes. They were unstoppable.”

Halfback Adam Reynolds said Friday’s performance “wasn’t pretty”.

“It’s not the performance we were looking for,” Reynolds said. “We finished in the top four and lucky enough we get to reset and go again.

“It’s reality. You have to deal with it. We have a game to play. You can’t dwell on what’s happened. “You have to move on. If we don’t we will find ourselves in the same position.”

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