No clause for concern over Wests Tigers halves Luke Brooks and Mitchell Moses
Nathan Ryan and Dan Walsh FOX SPORTS August 27, 2015 4:12PM SHARE
THERE’S some much needed good news on the Tigers’ recruitment front, with young halves pairing Luke Brooks and Mitchell Moses a step closer to staying with the club long term despite having clauses in their contracts which could make them free agents at the end of 2016.
The club’s Concord base resembles a battlefield at the moment after skipper Robbie Farah was sensationally told he has permission to look elsewhere beyond this season, with the NSW Origin rake revealing he has been told he could be playing reserve grade if he chooses to stay.
The Tigers board claims the move to punt the 31-year-old Farah has been made to ease crippling salary cap pressure on the club.
This week on the Market Watch podcast it’s a Robbie Farah special, with Titans coach Neil Henry joining Brett Kimmorley and the boys to take an in-depth look at the star hooker’s contract saga.
Local juniors Brooks and Moses have long been touted as the club’s future, and despite enduring difficult second years as NRL first graders in 2015, they remain two of the brightest young playmakers in the game with both players still short of their 21st birthdays.
Foxsports.com.au has learned that even with the Tigers’ current retention and recruitment woes — which coach Jason Taylor declared in July could take up to “three years to fix” — the club has accounted for Brooks and Moses’ salary being on their books in 2017.
The halves are under contract with the club until the end of 2016 although they have an option in their favour to play on with the joint venture in 2017.
Stand-in CEO Phil Moss, who dealt with a similar regeneration process during his time at Penrith, said the duo’s money is accounted for should they exercise their option.
“There’s no issue,” Moss said of the salary cap in relation to Brooks and Moses.
“They’ve been budgeted for, for want of a better word.
“If they decide to take up the option that’s fine — we have no issue around that.”
Having made moves to lock up Moses and Brooks in recent years along with the likes of NSW and Kangaroos prop Aaron Woods and boom fullback James Tedesco, the Tigers are loath to entertain losing any of a crop of youngsters that ranks among the best in the NRL.
It’s a situation that has created the need for tough calls to be made in regards to the club’s senior playing group, with Farah just the latest in a long list of Tigers that have been told to take their services elsewhere.
The likes of Adam Blair and Blake Austin were released to the Broncos and Raiders respectively over the past 12 months in moves to ease some of the salary cap pressure, while Keith Galloway was released from the final year of his deal and Pat Richards has not been re-signed as the club manages their roster.
Balmain great Benny Elias is the uncle of Mitchell Moses, and he insists his nephew would not only see out his current deal but will be playing in the black and gold for years to come.
“He’s not going anywhere,” Elias declared, adding that he felt no need to remind the youngster of his commitment to the club.
“He might have that option, but trust me he’s not going anywhere.
“Mitch doesn’t need me in his ear, he’s got a very good manager in Issac Moses, and he’s looking after him like he’s his own son. And they’re on board with what JT and the Tigers are building for, they’re in it for the long haul.”
As it stands, Farah says he plans to see out the final two years of his deal with the club. But with the Tigers making it clear they want to move him on, the flow-on effect is that Brooks and Moses, despite being only 20, would well and truly take ownership of guiding the Tigers around the park alongside Tedesco (22) and likely No. 9 Manaia Cherrington (20).
Speaking before the Farah bombshell landed on Tuesday evening, Elias threw his support behind the new regime Taylor is implementing at Concord.
“I have all the confidence in the world in JT,” Elias said.
“He’s made some big decisions at the Tigers, and they were required.
“Those two halves couldn’t ask for a better coach than him — he was a champion in his day and he knows what’s required of them.”