Robert Whittaker’s cornerman Alex Prates helping South Sydney and NSW hooker Damien Cook


ALEX Prates is carrying a Rabbitohs hoodie.

Clutching a Starbucks espresso.

And speaking of the latter being “necessary”, given he rose earlier than 5 o’clock this explicit Wednesday morning to look at Origin I from his Chicago lodge room.

“And the live stream on my laptop, it didn’t work,” Prates shrugs. “So I listened to the game through 2GB instead”.

And why?

Well, other than cornering Australian UFC champ Robert Whittaker – who defends his middleweight strap right here on Saturday night time – the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt has additionally, since January, been working extensively with Souths and NSW hooker Damien Cook.

The similar Cook who, you might have by now heard, was excellent for NSW on Wednesday night time.

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Desperate to enhance his defensive type when he first met with Prates, the 88kg Blue made a staggering 52 tackles towards Queensland on Wednesday night time. Better, he missed just one missed.

Elsewhere, the Bunnies’ rake additionally made a major line break, earned a attempt help, and typically loved a Blues debut so excellent … effectively, its greatness was unmistakeable even from 15,000km away.

Which is why now, we’ve cornered Prates.

Understanding that when requested not too long ago about his shock rise with NSW, the Bunnies No.9 gave a considerable chunk of credit score to this Rabbitohs wrestling coach with whom he educated twice per week all summer season.

Some days, the pair would meet at Cronulla seashore. Others, Cook making the lengthy haul west to his coach’s Smeaton Grange health club.

On a couple of events, the Souths hooker even grappled with Whittaker, himself a Rabbitohs fan who has beforehand taught wrestling strategies to the likes of Sam Burgess and Greg Inglis.

“And to hear Cookie do so well for NSW,” Prates says, “I was just so happy for him”.

But as for his personal position in stated bumper debut?

“If you’re asking how I helped Damien, he helped himself,” Prates insists. “The means we practice, there’s no magic.

“Damien simply will get on the mats and works extremely arduous. He was the one who wished the additional coaching, the one who caught with the additional coaching and the one who has put all of the work in.”

Whittaker, in the meantime, additionally credit vital enhancements in his personal floor sport to the affable black belt who, arriving in Australia 17 years in the past, now jokes of being “the only Brazilian who likes rugby league more than soccer”.

Quizzed on Prates’ affect, Whittaker says: “Alex works with sure folks rather well.

“Personally, his perspective in the direction of coaching, his work ethic, it actually agrees with me.

“He’s additionally extremely humble, with a very down-to-earth strategy.”

And as for the key to his success with leaguies like Cook?

“He keeps it simple,” the champ explains. “The mentality behind his jiu-jitsu, his grappling and wrestling, is that the basics work. You don’t need to be fancy, you just need to do your basics very well”.

While many combat trainers take pleasure in chasing down a headline, the trio behind Team Whittaker choose to remain largely unknown.

Apart from Prates, the Sydney father-of-three can also be cornered by boxing coach Justin Fitzgerald and head coach Fabricio Itte.

“And Fab, he’s the one,” Prates says when quizzed on the rise of Whittaker . “If I had been to inform you anything, I’d be mendacity.

“He’s an especially arduous employee who has these spreadsheets for every part.

“So we don’t have coaching camps. We practice all yr.”

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