Damien Cook wants reserve grade footy to return. (AAP Image/Darren England)
Damien Cook wants reserve grade footy to return. (AAP Image/Darren England)

Cook wants Magic Round to launch reserves return

Test hooker Damien Cook hopes the inaugural Magic Round provides the springboard for administrators to bring back reserve grade before NRL matches.

Declaring himself a fan of the eight-game festival which begins on Thursday night at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Cook said one of the major appeals of the Magic Round was the chance to witness more than one game in one-day.

Rugby league fans are no longer treated to reserve grade and an under-20's fixture prior to the main event of first grade - as was the case up until the early 2000s.

 

Damien Cook wants reserve grade footy to return. (AAP Image/Darren England)
Damien Cook wants reserve grade footy to return. (AAP Image/Darren England)

The impact from overuse on the pristine stadium playing surfaces was a factor in the original decision to take the majority of lower-tier matches away from the main event and to suburban grounds - as is the case with the Canterbury Cup.

But Cook said he was eager to monitor the state of the Suncorp Stadium playing surface this weekend, admitting he would love to see the old-fashioned curtain-raisers to return.

"I love the Magic Round concept, I think it's a great idea,'' Cook said.

 

Cook says the Suncorp Stadium Magic Round can enhance talks for the return of reserve grade. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
Cook says the Suncorp Stadium Magic Round can enhance talks for the return of reserve grade. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

 

"As a fan you'd be wanting to get up to Brisbane, watch as many games as you like in a city that will be buzzing.

"There'll be supporters from every team, which reminds me of what the Auckland Nines was like.

"It could have a very similar feeling.

"And the good thing is, if Suncorp Stadium can hold-up after eight games of footy, it would be a good thing for the game to start looking at the (quality of the) other stadiums and start playing the three games again before every first-grade game.

"We could have reserve grade back like the old days and that might give the fans a bit more than just turning up for one 80-minute game.

"They can go see the emerging players play before it as well.''

The in-form Rabbitohs are chasing a fifth-consecutive win against the Cowboys in Brisbane and have been drawn to play the final match of the Magic Round at 4pm on Sunday afternoon.

"It will be interesting to see how the field holds up for our game after seven previous games over three days,'' Cook said.

"Hopefully we've got nice and sunny conditions or it (surface) could be a bit messy.

"Everyone's looking forward to being a part of it and the good thing for the NRL is, it doesn't have to stay in Brisbane next year.

"They could move it around every year, they could have it in Perth next year with the new Optus Stadium, or they can take it wherever you want.

"It's a fan friendly concept so I'm really looking forward to getting up there and playing.''

News Corp Australia


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