Slimline Bath scrum-half Chris Cook credits a gruelling summer training regime for helping him see off Kahn Fotuali’i to spearhead the club’s title charge.
Fotuali’i was voted Bath’s player-of-the-season by supporters in May. However, the Samoan superstar has been usurped by local boy Cook, who revealed he shed over a stone in weight during pre-season to boost his selection chances and the success of Bath rugby – if you are looking forward to seeing Cook in action this weekend, back your predictions for the weekend results and place your rugby bet with Bodog Sports.
Cook said: “I felt I needed to trim down in order to come out firing and I’m about 89kgs (14st) now, whereas I was 96kgs (15st 2lbs) before.
“I wasn’t ordered to do it, it’s something I just wanted to do myself during the off-season, so I worked very hard and I’m feeling the benefits now. I’m just that bit sharper around the park and it’s been great to be rewarded with the starting jersey.
“It’s fantastic competition with Kahn and he deservedly won player-of-the-year last season, but I’ve risen to that challenge and I’m enjoying myself.”
Cook’s desire to impress has gained additional impetus from the inspiration he has derived from step-brother Ed Jackson, the Dragons No.8, whose recovery from a serious spinal injury sustained in April has been little short of miraculous.
Cook, 26, explained: “My mother married Ed’s dad when I was 13 so we’ve been step-brothers a long time and what’s happening with him is inspiring.
“When I first got the call to say he’d had a bit of an accident my first reaction was, ‘he’ll be absolutely fine’, because he’s a strong bloke and I know how driven he is. But when I realised how serious it was, it was pretty scary.
“His recovery has been amazing, though, and it’s a real credit to Ed and the people working around him. He’ll be more ambitious than ever now and will probably do something crazy like climb Everest, that’s the kind of bloke he is.”
With Freddie Burns joining from Leicester and fellow fly-half Rhys Priestland on fire, Bath’s gifted bunch of half-backs have moved to tighten their bonds with regular evenings out – something Cook believes is impacting on the field.
He added: “The front row have a social group, as do the back rowers, so why not the half-backs? It’s a really good culture, something Todd Blackadder and Tabai Matson introduced, and as half-backs it feels like we’ve got much tighter.
“Rhys has had an awesome start to the season and Freddie’s been desperate to get out and play his part, so socialising together, discussing our games and how we’re going to operate, can only increase our effectiveness on the field.
“Ultimately, we hope to translate that into wins and success for Bath.”
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