‘No excuses’: Fittler puts heat on Cook in Blues’ No.9 race

NSW coach Brad Fittler says there are “no excuses” for incumbent Blues No.9 Damien Cook in the race to retain his Origin spot ahead of the June 9 series opener.

Cook’s form has been indifferent to start the season and despite previously having represented NSW under Fittler, the Souths star is no certainty to be named this year.

Fittler admitted that Cook’s game had suffered in the absence of Souths and Origin teammate Cameron Murray, and urged Cook to lift his game with Murray returning.

“Damien Cook’s now got Cameron Murray back,” he told 2GB’s Wide World of Sports Radio.

“That’s someone who he really relies on for quick play-the-balls and different parts of Cameron’s game complement Cook’s, so there’s no excuses.

“They’ve had a couple of big losses lately so you’ve got to think they’re going to be at the top of their game.

“I really look forward to when they play and I’ll be watching intently.”

Another contender for the Blues’ No.9 jersey is Parramatta hooker Reed Mahoney, and Fittler admitted that the Souths’ clash with the Eels in Round 12 could be pivotal in which team’s hooker represents New South Wales.

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