from matthew johns - foxsports.com.au, daily telegraph
LUKE Brooks will win grand finals, Dally M medals, represent this country and dominate Origin series … one day.
But first, lessons and hardships.
What Brooks has experienced in the first two weeks of his rookie season will be the story of his year.
Just as it was the story of other rookie halfbacks’ first seasons in the spotlight. Great halfbacks like Greg Alexander, Ricky Stuart, Allan Langer, Peter Sterling and Andrew Johns will all relate to what the young Tiger is about to embark on.
All we Monday Morning Experts — one day putting a huge star next to his name, the next a huge question mark.
But make no mistake, Luke Brooks is a gem. The Tigers can build their next 10 years around him. Great things will come, but not yet.
The ups and downs of a young halfback’s first year take as much out of them mentally as they do physically.
Andrew Johns’ 1994 rookie year was 26 rounds of highs and lows.
He had a pretty good start. In round one he scored 23 individual points against Souths away, a club record, and collected man-of-the-match honours.
The papers declared a “superstar had arrived”.
In round two he returned home to play the unfashionable Wests Magpies. A huge crowd turned up to see if this new sensation could break his 23-point record. Things didn’t exactly go to script.
In the Wests line-up were a couple of old veterans who were way past their best, Paul Langmack and Jason Alchin.
Their legs had long gone but their tongues worked just fine, and they sledged the heavy-seated rookie from start to finish. Joey had one of his all-time shockers.
One commentator used a spin on the old Queensland Tourism ad to sum up the young Knights halfback: “Andrew Johns, beautiful one day, disastrous the next.”
Those volatile first two rounds were a perfect snapshot of Andrew’s rookie year, when one week he would be labelled “the game’s next great player” and the next “dramatically overrated”.
One retired rugby league legend made comment of Andrew during that year by saying: “People have been telling me what a great prospect this bloke is, but I just don’t see it … he’s a fat little womble.”
When Ricky Stuart coached the Roosters a way back, he was quoted as saying: “Halfbacks own the result.”
True. In victory, the No.7 is much sought after in celebration, and in defeat the No.7 is where the autopsy starts.
It’s an unforgiving position with little concession given to age or experience.
Soon enough “young” Luke Brooks will become just Luke Brooks, and his performances will be judged without thought of how many first grade games he has played.
People tell me he’s a level-headed kid and that will be a great help in this year of highs and lows which all high-profile young stars endure.
The praise will be too lavish, the criticism too harsh and he will spend many a night staring at the bedroom ceiling going over tackles missed, balls dropped and plays he could’ve done better.
Of course his teammates and coaching staff will play a vital role in Brooks enjoying a successful rookie campaign and the adjustments which were made from their first-round loss to their second-round flogging of the Gold Coast were very encouraging.
In round one it was hard to work out if it was Luke Brooks’ team or Robbie Farah’s. Brooks was dominant early then faded out of the contest. Robbie tried to play hooker, halfback and five-eighth.
In round two, coach Mick Potter had clearly defined their roles. Farah, the principle ball player, creating and finessing out of dummy-half.
Robbie would make a dent in the defence and with momentum created, the ball would go to the first receiver, Brooks, who attacked the retreating defence with his run first, pass second mentality.
It’s a terrific bit of coaching by Potter, who has managed to design a game plan to play to the strengths of both men.
The smarts and skill of Farah, and the speed, energy and footwork of Luke Brooks.
As Brooks gets older his ball-playing will get better and better. But for now, not being bogged down with the exact science of creating holes for others suits him perfectly.
This week Brooks faces his biggest challenge so far — to try and play an influential role in a match when, for the majority of the contest, he will have little go-forward to work with.
Last week the Titans turned up to play touch football with the Tigers. Souths will be a very different proposition.
The difference in physicality this week will be netball to boxing in comparison.
Tonight Souths will target Brooks. They will sledge him, they will hit him late and try to make it 80 minutes of hell.
In a season of challenges, tonight Brooks will learn that in these games, doing simple things right will be the big plays. Kick and defend well.
When kicking long, kick into space. When on the attack, make the last play your best and be clear in thought. Grubber for the in-goal or cross-kick for the wings. Make sure you decide which long before the ball hits your hands.
In defence, talk confidently and get up fast. The more you get off your line, the more solid your contact will be.
Anything more from the young man will be a bonus.
spot on with the assessment of him and farah in last weeks game imo.