Damien Cook has declared that South Sydney Rabbitohs teammate Billy Brittain is more than ready for the NRL should he go missing for State of Origin duties in the coming weeks.
Brittain joined the Rabbitohs for the 2018 season and has been their second-string hooker since Robbie Farah moved to the Wests Tigers last June. He has been extremely dominant in the Canterbury Cup NSW in this time and has now been named captain and hooker of the NSW Residents side that will play Queensland on Sunday.
Replacing the Australian hooker will be no small task should Brittain be given the chance to debut, but Cook – who has worked closely with Brittain over the past two years – has no doubt that his understudy will fit right into the NRL if called upon.
“Billy Brittain is a great young kid and if I was lucky enough to play Origin again this year there’s no doubt that he’ll do a great job stepping in to play hooker for our club,” Cook told NSWRL.com.au.
“I’d like to think we’re very similar in style; he’s got a great running game, he’s got great deception and he’s strong and tough in defence.
“The boys love him around training and I’m confident that if I have to go missing for any representative honours, which I will hopefully do, then he’ll come in and do a great job.”
In both years of playing in the Canterbury Cup NSW, he has made the competition’s Residents side. For Souths this year, he has been close to, if not, their best player in a team that is close to the top of the ladder.
Like any kid that that has tied up a pair of bootlaces, Brittain’s lifelong dream has been to make his NRL debut.
“It’ll be a big dream come true, I’ve worked really hard for the opportunity,” Brittain told NSWRL.com.au.
“It’s definitely something that I want to achieve; obviously to debut is the ultimate goal but long term would be staying there, it would just mean the world to me.
“I’m not too sure which direction Wayne [Bennett] is looking at going [during the Origin period] but if it arises, I’m confident I’ll be ready.”
“I’ve been working really hard to try and get to that point and I feel like I’m pretty close but who knows, we’ll wait and see.
When Brittain joined the Rabbitohs, he had the opportunity to work with one of the great hookers of our time, Robbie Farah, and the would-be State of Origin hooker that year in Cook.
It’s been a learning experience for the young hooker, who relished the chance to work with Cook upon arrival at the club.
“I’ve been pretty fortunate, my first year their Cookie and I were training together all pre season because Robbie Farah was away with the World Cup,” Brittain said.
“He’s someone I’ve bounced ideas off, I’d be silly not to pick his brain, especially where he’s standing in the game now, he’s the best hooker.
“There’s little parts of his game that I’ve asked about in certain areas and he’s more than helpful to give me a helping hand.”
For now, captaining the Canterbury Cup NSW Residents is the primary focus for Brittain in what is another step in his progression.
“I’m very privileged to be in this position obviously we’ve got a short preparation so it’s really important that the boys get together,” he said.
“I won’t be doing too many things too differently from what I do at club level; I think if we can all gel well together then that’s going to help our team on the weekend.”