Hatred between Dane Gagai and Latrell Mitchell is palpable on the State of Origin stage but it can only help South Sydney’s push for an NRL title, according to Damien Cook.
The two Rabbitohs stars went head to head in an old-fashioned battle across the Origin series and could have been confused for old enemies in Wednesday night’s game three.
Neither Blues star Mitchell nor proud Queenslander Gagai took a step back from the heat despite their close friendship off the field.
And it’s that sort of intensity that can help Souths as they make a run towards an NRL premiership this season.
“I’ve learned a lot from Gags (Gagai) about what Origin really means,” Cook said of his Rabbitohs teammates.
“When I first played Origin he didn’t reply to my texts, he didn’t talk to me throughout the whole camp and we’ve kept that the whole time throughout every year.
“Watching them two go at it and being their teammates, you realise how much they’re going to put themselves on the line, it doesn’t matter who’s in front of them.
“Now they get to join forces again and we can go for a run into the finals.
“But it’s a massive win for us at South Sydney and teammates to see those guys do that.”
For Mitchell’s part at least, there is no respect given to his Queensland counterpart once they come into the Origin arena.
“I love Gags, he’s obviously my teammate in club land, but here I don’t respect anyone on the field, that’s the Origin arena and you come out to flog each other,” he said.
“If you’re not on my side, if you’re not a Blue, then I don’t respect you.
“We had a good yarn after the game and we’ll go back this week on the Gold Coast and get into camp and have a laugh.
“He’s my brother, he’s more than a mate to me.
“I play with no regards. I love playing with great players and if they’re up to it, they’re up to it. If not, I’ll take them on.”
Third-placed Souths start their push for a top-four finals finish against Canterbury on Sunday.