Damien Cook has revealed he has postponed his wedding to make his international debut in the Kangaroos’ end-of-season Tests.
The South Sydney and NSW rake organised his big day on October 19 but was forced to rejig plans after being named in the Kangaroos squad for Auckland Tests against New Zealand (October 13) and Tonga (October 20).
The date clash threatened to deny the Helensburgh-product a long-awaited chance to replace retired Test skipper Cameron Smith and finally don the Kangaroos number nine jersey. But Cook said his partner Courtney made the call to postpone the wedding.
‘‘It was a hard one. I wasn’t sure if I would make (the Kangaroos squad) or whether there was even going to be a second game (against Tonga),’’ Cook said. ‘‘My partner didn’t want to risk cancelling it. I let her make the decision because I didn’t want to get ahead of myself.
‘‘She wanted to move it so it’s a few weeks later. But she gave me a few jobs to do for the wedding and I made sure I did those before I came into camp.’’
Cook said he was now focused on making the Test number nine jersey his own after it had become synonymous with Smith since his international debut in 2006.
"I have grown up watching him. He’s the best hooker in our game, one of the best-ever players,’’ Cook said of Smith. ‘‘But I wouldn’t say it is daunting (replacing Smith). No one can compare with him. I will just play my style of footy and will try to do the best job for the team. You never know how many of these you get to play.’’
Cook is guaranteed to start in the number nine jersey, but it remains to be seen if he will be given a breather at some point. ‘‘We know Damien can play 80. So if he can get through 80 minutes fit and healthy then that’s good for the side,’’ coach Mal Meninga said.
The Kangaroos squad gathered on Sunday for a Brisbane camp before flying out to Auckland on Tuesday. It featured nine members of the Prime Minister’s XIII who held out PNG 34-16 in Saturday’s annual clash, which featured a bizarre pitch invasion.
The match was stopped for 10 minutes in the first half after thousands of fans rushed onto the field fearing a light tower would fall.
‘‘It was pretty funny. A few of the boys were a bit spooked,’’ Kangaroos prop Jordan McLean said. ‘‘It was something to do with a light pole, someone thought it was falling down and they piled onto the field. They just show a lot of passion over there. They like to be up close and personal with their heroes. It was sorted pretty quick and we got a bit of a rest.’’