South Sydney coach Michael Maguire says Robbie Farah and Damien Cook are still locked in a battle for the starting hooker spot.

Coach Michael Maguire won't guarantee star South Sydney recruit Robbie Farah first crack at hooker in the new NRL season.

Maguire says the former Wests Tiger remains locked in a battle for the No.9 jersey with Damien Cook.

The 33-year-old Farah has 14 NRL seasons and 247 games under his belt with the Tigers compared to Cook's 26 games.

But the coach said both were in contention and the decision could come down to pre-season form, which will likely include the Rabbitohs' Charity Shield clash with St George Illawarra on February 19.

"There's some really good competition," Maguire told reporters on Wednesday.

"I think both of those boys have really complemented each other.

"I'm fortunate to have two quality players in that position and how we utilise and use those players moving forward will obviously (depend) how we go through the trials.

"I think the experience of Rob will bring a lot to us but young Cookie's improving along the way, too."

Farah, who is recovering from torn biceps this pre-season, signed with Souths in September on a two-year deal after falling out of favour with Wests Tigers coach Jason Taylor last year.

He was expected to be their first-choice hooker after the Rabbitohs released Cameron McInnes to St George Illawarra.

But Rabbitohs halfback Adam Reynolds said recently that based on early pre-season performance, Cook was leading the race to the starting spot.

Captain Greg Inglis said he had no idea who would get the nod but agreed with Maguire the hookers' competition was healthy.

"They both want that No.9 spot which makes the competition between those two really good, which helps the rest of us," he said on Wednesday.

Maguire said the recruitment of Farah and other personnel would help the 2014 premiers move on from the disappointment of not making the finals last year, with Robert Jennings, Luke Kelly and Robbie Rochow also brought in.

"We're just very focused on daily improvement," he said.

"With the new combinations ... we're learning about each other all the time. If we continually push to do that, we've got high expectations on each other."

By Warren Barnsley, AAP

Sportsta Contributor

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