Damien Cook looks set to return to the St George Illawarra Dragons as the club’s starting hooker more than a decade after making his NRL debut for the joint venture, with South Sydney salary cap issues opening the door.

Souths told Cook’s management earlier this season that he won’t be offered a deal beyond 2025 and can take up options elsewhere.

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Shane Flanagan has been looking for a number nine for some time amid his St George Illawarra roster rebuild and the Cook situation ticks all the numbers for the star coach. The Sydney Morning Herald has already been reporting that Red V management will table a two-year deal for the 32-year-old as soon as later this weekend.

These salary cap issues at the Rabbitohs mean things could move even quicker too; should Souths chip in, the Dragons are happy to take on the star’s $650,000-a-year contract at season’s end.

Cook only started playing in the NRL at 25, meaning he can likely play on late into his 30s. He originally made his way into the top-flight competition with the Dragons in 2013 but only played two games before signing with the Canterbury Bulldogs. He made seven appearances there and eventually moved on to the Rabbitohs, where he’s now made 195 appearances.

Peter Mamouzelos, who just re-signed to 2027, shapes as the Bunnies’ main rake.

On the Wollongong side of things, The Sporting Base understands this surprise signing would see Cook plugged into the starting lineup to share minutes with Jacob Liddle, who has quietly impressed this season. While Liddle has been great for the Dragons, Flanagan sees him as a long-term number 14 player.

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The Dragons have been publicly hunting a star hooker for some time now, with their biggest bid coming around Jeremy Marshall-King before he re-signed with the Dolphins last week.

The post Souths salary cap squeeze leads Damien Cook back to Dragons first appeared on The Sporting Base.

The post Souths salary cap squeeze leads Damien Cook back to Dragons appeared first on The Sporting Base.