Former Wales captain Cook turns Blue to Red
JERSEY REDS’ pack has been further bolstered by a decade’s worth of top-flight experience thanks to the capture of former Wales U20 captain Macauley Cook.
The utility forward, who plies his trade in the second- and back-rows, has ended a ten-year stay with Cardiff Blues to begin a new chapter in the Championship in 2020/21 – having made over 170 appearances in the Guinness PRO14 and across Europe.
Offered dispensation by the government to travel to the Island next week so his partner can begin work on 1 July, Cook will be among the first of 15 inbound signings (and counting) to settle into life this side of the Channel before a delayed start to pre-season training, which is now likely to be August. Knee and shoulder injuries have limited his on-field input to around 20 games since 2018 – a run then compounded by a nationwide ban on all rugby activity due to Covid-19. Needless to say, the 28-year-old is more eager than most to get cracking at St Peter.
‘It has been a little bit frustrating from a game-time point of view so with my Blues contract coming to an end I was really happy when Jersey came in and offered me an opportunity to play,’ Cook explained.
‘Being somewhere for so long ... sometimes you can get into your comfort zone a little bit so it’s time for a fresh start. I’m looking forward to meeting the boys and playing a high standard of rugby. I’ve heard there are some really tough games in the Championship and I’m excited to get back on the field and have a run of games.
‘I’ve spoken to many people who have played for Jersey and I’ve heard they’re a great club to play for. And obviously the lifestyle as well – I’ve heard it’s a really good place to live.’
He added: ‘As soon as I knew I was signing I was added to a Whatsapp group with the new boys and we’ve all had to do challenges, which have been great for us to get to know each other. It it already feels like a tight-knit team, even though boys are coming from all over the world.’
Cook’s deal brings him back in touch with former Blues colleagues Tom Williams and Jack Roberts – the latter a recent signing from Doncaster Knights – while offering a chance to work under a new-look coaching unit. Former England World Cup hooker Rob Webber will soon team up with backs coach Ed Robinson and director of rugby Harvey Biljon.
‘I only know Rob as a player but I know Lou Reed, who played with him at Sale, and he says he’s a great guy,’ Cook explained. ‘He’s fresh out of the game so he will have empathy with the players and he’ll know the game inside out. I’m big mates with Ed’s brother Ollie – they’re obviously from a great rugby family and having spoken to Harvey he seems very knowledgeable as well. And Jim Molony [strength and conditioning coach] – he’s been getting in touch about off-season stuff and getting in good shape so we can hit the ground running. We’re doing all the conditioning we can during Covid but I’m looking forward to actually getting out onto a rugby pitch.’
Jersey’s professional squad for the 2020/21 campaign is now almost complete, standing at 32-strong. Up to three more players are believed to be on the list for potential loan deals in the coming weeks.
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