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When Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues hooker Damien Cook was nominated earlier this year for the Philips Sports Dad of the Year award, he was a doting father of one – daughter Willow.

Now that he’s been judged the winner from the 10 finalists, Cook is a father of two – son Jagger arrived 12 days ago.

“I’m very honoured to receive this award on behalf of all the sports dads out there,” Cook said.

“My family means everything to me and I love being a dad and everything that comes with it.

“I’m always striving to be a better dad for my daughter Willow and now son Jagger, so I’m very proud to win this award.”

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A decorated member of the Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues with 14 Origin games, alongside 167 with the South Sydney Rabbitohs, and four Tests for Australia, Cook is also a former Dally M Hooker of the Year and a Provan Summons Medal winner.

A popular player among his peers, Cook is also known for his generosity.

The $5,000 he wins as Sports Dad of the Year, he is matching out of his own pocket to present a $10,000 cheque to his nominated charity, Ronald McDonald House, which provides accommodation for parents with children in hospital.

It’s been a bright spot in a tough week for Cook and Willow, who have had to keep their distance from Jagger as they both tested positive to COVID-19.

“It’s been a hard week with COVID as Willow already loves her brother and just wants to give him hugs and kisses and help out,” Cook said.

“But Father’s Day will be great as we’ve been locked up for a week so I’m really looking forward to introducing Jagger to the extended family.”

He has also missed the last two regular season games for South Sydney but will be there for his sixth finals campaign with the Rabbitohs.

In further good news for NSW Rugby League dads Bradley Benjamin, who is vice-president of the Lightning Ridge Junior RLC and U12s coach, has won the Philips Community Sports Dad of the Year.

Benjamin has played a key role in keeping Rugby League thriving at grassroots level in the remote NSW mining community since moving west from Sydney 12 years ago.

“Brad loves the kids and they love him,” said Chantelle King, one of those who nominated Benjamin.

“He loves footy. He loves to involve himself in the community every chance he gets and he puts his hand up straight away. You can find him at all our kids events or chaperoning them to the events.”

Benjamin has three boys, Blake 13, Riley 11, and seven-year-old Levi, who all love their football as much as dad.

“I played as a youngster for the Leichhardt Wanderers for eight years,” Benjamin said.

“To be able to enjoy something with my own kids watching them grow, develop skills both on and off the field and making friends is what motivates me.”

Acknowledgement of Country

New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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