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Brandon Wakeham.

Jack Cogger and Brandon Wakeham are not letting the competition for the Bulldogs No.6 jersey get in the way of their friendship or team harmony.

The vacancy created by Kieran Foran's shoulder reconstruction means coach Dean Pay has a big decision to make about his five-eighth to partner Lachlan Lewis at halfback.

Cogger, 22, and Wakeham, who turns 21 next month, are not going to make it any easier on him.

"There's things Brandon does better than me and probably some things I do better than him," Cogger told

"We can be fairly similar players at the same time. We're around the same age, both train really hard, both like doing the extras.

"Hopefully we push each other to be better players. That's a better outcome for the team."

Pay has not filled Cogger's head with too many demands as yet.

Jack Cogger goes through his paces at pre-season training.
Jack Cogger goes through his paces at pre-season training. ©

"Not too much in depth but he wants me to keep on top of the skills needed for my kicking game and my defence. You get a lot of confidence when they are right, and your attack comes off the back," he said.

For Wakeham, who has played three NRL games in 2019 but has a 100% winning record in all three Tests for Fiji playing in the halves, he wants to learn as much as he can from Cogger.

"I like how composed he is. He never gets flustered with anything, even when he's getting hit by the big boys," Wakeham said.

"He's a great talker on the field. He's able to get the boys around wherever he wants them. The forwards can always hear his voice.

"The two of us have built a good relationship. He's always tipping me off or I'm giving him some tips. We're always helping each other out trying to get better.

"It's not really a personal thing. We both want to help the team, help the club, get into a better position. Whoever it is – him or me – will do a good job."

Wakeham has been seeking out Pay for his knowledge as well.

"He's always sitting on top of me watching me and how I'm going. I do a lot of video with him basically every day," he said.

"He just wants me to keep fighting to try and get that position for round one. He wants me to keep working on my fitness and every part of my game when I come into training each day."

Wakeham made his NRL debut coming off the bench, when Foran went down injured in the 14-12 round-15 win over the Sharks.

Cogger has a little more experience with 37 NRL games – 20 with the Knights before joining the Belmore club in 2019.

He played nine of his 17 games with the Bulldogs this year at No.6, including five weeks that Foran missed with a syndesmosis injury in April.

Cogger's kicking game keeps improving with 11 forced drop-outs alongside his three tries and three try assists.

Wakeham, who played his junior football with Terry Lamb's old club, the Chester Hill Hornets, has been training with another Bulldogs champion - 2004 premiership-winning half Brent Sherwin.

Foran is also on hand to have a chat as he rehabilitates his shoulder in the gym under the watchful eye of head physio Tony Ayoub.

NRL Nines the next step in growing national game

"I'm getting a bit  more composed and calm now," Wakeham said, from all the advice he's been receiving.

"Early on I was more frantic and not taking control of a game as a half should. I've been watching a lot of NRL halves in how they control the speed of things – give the boys a rest when they need it."

Cogger and Wakeham have the NRL Nines in Perth and then trials against the Sharks (February 22 in Port Moresby) and the Raiders (February 29, Port Macquarie) to convince Pay they should be in the side when round one kicks off on March 12 with the Bulldogs facing the Eels at Bankwest Stadium. 

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