Wests Tigers coach Mick Potter admitted he is reluctant to rush teenage half-back sensation Luke Brooks into the top grade too soon despite the club’s horrific injury toll.
Stand-in half-back Tim Moltzen won’t play again this season after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in the 20-10 loss to Brisbane at Campbelltown on Saturday night.
Centres Chris Lawrence (hamstring) and Blake Ayshford (ankle ligament damage) will both have scans on Monday and are also facing extended stints on the sidelines after suffering injuries in the Broncos clash.
But finding a replacement half-back is the biggest challenge facing the decimated Tigers, who are missing a total of 10 first graders including half-back Braith Anasta (groin) and five-eighth Benji Marshall (toe).
Anasta and Marshall are both expected to miss at least two more matches, while the out-of-favour Jacob Miller reportedly struggled in a NSW Cup outing on Saturday and looks unlikely to earn a recall.
That leaves the option of shifting skipper Robbie Farah to half-back and promoting Masada Iosefa to hooker.
Alternatively, Potter could turn to the 18-year Brooks, who has been touted as a future Test player but has just six NYC games under his belt.
“I’d have to talk to (NYC coach) Todd (Payten) a bit more,” Potter said when asked if he will consider blooding Brooks against the Bulldogs next Friday.
"Luke’s had some little assignments to complete in the games previous to this.
"He’s progressing OK, I’m not sure if he’s ready for that jump yet but he’d probably grab it with open arms and do his best and probably do an OK job.
"I want to get him physically ready otherwise he’s going to be a real target just with that step up.
“But he’s certainly got some real good skill, there’s no doubting that.”
Potter added when quizzed on Miller’s chances of a recall: "He’s only had one game and he played in Auckland today. I’m going to have a look at that vision and see how he’s gone there.
“I’ll scratch around on Monday. Robbie can play seven as well as nine.”
Potter praised his players’ bravery despite dropping their fourth straight game to remain at the wrong end of the ladder in 13th spot.
“We’re disappointed we didn’t get the result,” Potter said.
“I don’t want to focus on the injuries as much as our performance. I thought the players, although they came up with some poor stuff, there was some really brave stuff too.”
Broncos skipper Sam Thaiday claimed his side will have to improve significantly to match South Sydney next Friday night.
“It was kind of a weird game for us tonight, we did start very well and then I don’t know what happened at the start of that second half but we forgot how to play footy again,” Thaiday said.
“It was a tough, weird win but we’ll take the two points and go back to Brisbane and dissect that game and we’ve got another job to do next Friday night.”
Either put brooks up for one game vs the dogs, a pretty nice debut to be honest, or put Luani at 9. Definitely don’t want masada there for the whole game.
Only two good options i feel, Potter will have to make the call. I think he is likely to go the way of Brooks to be honest, moving Farah is not his style. Replacing a half back with a halfback IS.
A big no to moving Farah,that is a Sheens move that has never worked,and taken away our most potent attacking option,bring in Brooks,give him a shot,the really good players can handle it.
True, but Brooks is EIGHTEEN. He’s going up against a Professional NRL side. i dunno if he can handle it especially seeing his game in u20 SOO he seemed to get shut out which is what will happen by Farah and maybe sirro in the NRL.
There could have been a good reason for his performance iN SOO though, he was a late call up so Potter will know the details there and make a good decision like he has all season. (except poor timing for taking off farah).
Give him a go but make sure there is a big pack of forwards in front of him. He will need protection and should defend outside Blair. His age shouldn’t matter even though I know they changed the rules on that.
We cannot carry Masada and Thompson in the same game, we will be the first team ever to crack 50 penalties in a match!
I’m of the opinion to let this kid wait. He is very young give him sometime to develop as a footballer before throwing him into a side which has been savaged by injury against seasoned professionals. He is a talented kid but still very raw, I fear pushing him too soon could send him backwards.
On Miller who knows he is on the outs and he would know it. This would be a chance for him to stand up and prove everyone wrong
Miller played no7 in our only two wins,miller trained through the preseason as our no7 and miller has played plenty of games with Siro as the no6.Seems to be the only smart move.
You can blood a boom youngster in a great team,but it’s a different kettle of fish to try and blood them in a team that is on the canvas.For all the Brooks fans,he will be the starting no7 in 2014,be patient and give him some time