Text exchange squashed NSW star Damien Cook’s nerves seconds before warm-up

In a game-changing line break, Cook hit the afterburners and crashed over the line at 30kmh to pull the Blues to a strong 18-8 lead in a critical part of the match.

Pulling a fast one on Maroons fullback Cameron Munster, Cook joked that the move was simply training for the arrival of his first child in November.

“I’ve been probably a little bit hesitant every now when I run out, not backing myself sometimes,” he said. “Once I finally got into the clear all I wanted to do was score the try, so I just had to find a way. But the good footwork … I’m going to need it when the daughter’s here.”

While most were in awe at his efforts, his wife Courtney was said to be the first to offer up some constructive criticism.

A sweet text exchange before heading on for warm-up was said to be key in settling Cook’s nerves.

“She grew up with footy with her dad and she knows the game too well sometimes,” he said. “I get some criticism that I don’t like, but I always ask her how I go after a game.”

Another person who had a pre-game message for Cook was his mother Ann, who is widely credited for Cook’s authentic nature.

“My saying to him was always: look after yourself, look after your mates and look after your reputation … and just to be good to people,” she said.

Ann says she felt particularly anxious before the match, worried for his safety due to her occupation as a nurse. After riding the highs and lows of Origin alongside her son, Ann says the game left her feeling “mentally and physically” exhausted.

“As soon as the season starts this wave of anxiety comes over you because you ride the emotions with them,” she said. “At least when they were younger at least you could actually walk up and down the sideline but when you’re sitting in a stadium you do all these micro-movements, I feel like I need an ice pack, you brace yourself, at the end of the game you’re exhausted.”

With a supportive family unit behind him, it’s no wonder Cook has solidified himself as one of “good guys” of the game.

“We are just a really close family,” Ann said. “This time last year his brother flew out from London to Dubai did a three day turn around just to see him debut.”

And it was his debutant Origin year that Cook was happy to attribute to this year’s decider success.

“I learnt from last year and I understood what was coming and what the week entailed and the lead up to the game,” he said. “Obviously being the decider was completely different but I controlled the nerves a little bit more.”

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