Just how good is Luke Brooks?

I just watched his debut game again and wow what a debut! No wonder he’s been criticised ever since. If Johns himself had a debut that good he wouldn’t have replicated that performance for years.

I thought I’d do a bit of an analysis to see just what we have on our hands here.

Age: 21 (Born December 21, 1994)
Games: 47 (Debuted at 19)
Tries: 17 (just over 1 every 3 games)
2014 NRL Rookie of the Year
2014 Wests Tigers Rookie of the Year
2014 RLPA Rookie of the Year

Now, a lot of people argue he didn’t deserve those awards or that he did but it was a weak year. Sure that may be the case. A lot will say he had a poor 2015, without realising that he was responsible for almost all our playmaking with a team falling apart around him, a leader who was out of form, an even greener rookie beside him and the expectations of the world on his shoulders. People don’t realise that despite this Luke Brooks came out in 2015 and put up these stats.

23 games
16 try assists
10 tries
7 linebreaks
310 tackles
26 tackle breaks

Compare that with another young half who had a great year, Anthony Milford.

24 games
17 try assists
11 tries
302 tackles
14 linebreaks

So Milford, who was considered by all and sundry to have had a standout 2015, and rightly so, and was part of a team that made the GF, was marginally better in key statistics than Brooks. Their stats are so similar to have been virtually identical for statistical purposes. One could easily make the assumption that if their situations were reversed, Brooks would have had a far greater 2015 output. Imagine Brooks surrounded by the Broncos team? Life is all of a sudden much easier for the young man.

Let’s compare to Australian rep, Daly Cherry-Evans.

23 Games
18 Try assists
5 Tries
529 Tackles
10 linebreaks

Again, marginally better statistics, but this guy is an Australian rep and again, for Manly’s woes they were a better side than us in 2015. That aside, one would expect Daly Cherry-Evans to street a 21 year old who has had the proverbial boot laid into him for underperforming. Interesting to note he had a far greater tackle count, perhaps that could be why he apparently underperformed.

Now let’s compare them all to our Daly M Player of the Year, JT.

21 Games
28 Try Assists
3 Tries
329 Tackles
6 Linebreaks

Consider that of the three, JT was a real solo act. Michael Morgan played more like a backrower at times and did very little playmaking. In the premiership winning side JT rightly outpointed the rest of the NRL in Try Assists but this is THE BEST player in the game and look at the other stats. Brooks played more games, scored more tries, made more linebreaks and considering he was in a hopeless side, his try assists wasn’t as far off JT as one might think, especially in light of the fact that he and Moses had a very even share of possession whereas at the Cowboys, JT had far far more touches than Morgan.

Finally let’s compare with Blake Austin. The man everyone whinged about leaving (myself included) who was touted as a NSW rep and had what seemed to be a standout year.

23 Games
8 Try Assists
14 Tries
396 Tackles
18 Linebreaks

Clearly the stats reveal that Austin is a running player, he had half the try assists of Brooks. Impressive linebreaks and surprisingly not that many more tries than our young fella tbh. On these stats you’d take Brooks right, especially as a half? But Austin had a GREAT year and really showed us what a dumb move it was to lose him right?

Tell me why is Luke Brooks so maligned? He’s played over 40 first grade games and he’s only just turned 21. He’s played more first grade games at his age than Andrew Johns, Johnathan Thurston, Darren Lockyer, Daly Cherry-Evans, Cooper Cronk and Kieran Foran. His games have been as part of a team going through on and off field turmoil and he’s had to get it done beside other inexperienced halves. His senior players have had flagging form, he’s been through two coaches and he’s still putting up similar or better stats to other players considered to be going great guns.

Imagine if our forwards were damaging. Imagine if our defense was capable of helping him. If we had outside backs and backrowers who ran lines for him. How much better would he be already? Remember, he’s 21. He’s better at 21 than any of those I named were. Imagine how much improvement he has left in him?

He is still on track to be the great player he always was on track to be. I am excited for what happens in 2016, I hope some other players put in and let him develop with some pressure off.

In my opinion he’s one to watch going into the future.
A possible superstar but only time will tell.
I’ma fan and hoping for the best

Interesting post MacDougall.

I think it’s some glaring mistakes that showed he was a little out of touch last year that grabbed people attention and questioned his ability. Those shocking forward passes happened way too often and made him look as though he wasn’t playing what he saw and was either out of form, or just not as good as we first hoped.

I think he will be very good. He just needs some more experience to fine tune his kicking game and gain confidence. His speed alone means he will always be a threat. He’s very tough as well.

The year he single handedly tried his heart out to do all our attack while Anasta did nothing shows he’s made of the right stuff. There was one game where we were hopeless, Anasta was doing nothing, but Brooks just tried every trick in the book. He didn’t play great, but he took the game on by himself. From that moment my respect for him was there.

Well said MacDougall. So many things the stats make you consider:

half in the NRL is such a strong position that even marginally better stats (which the other 3 have) can say loads about you as a player

how important the forward pack is - those three other teams had big, effective packs (Manly is debatable but still better than ours)

how much work Brooksy did - they could be ‘bad team, good stats’ type of statistics but having watched him, I think he’s just busy and hungry.

And really, it just goes to show how much pressure is placed on young players by lazy journalists and the public. Give the kid some time. He’s doing great stuff at a very young age in a tumultuous environment.

One thing he does need to do more of is backing himself when the game is in the balance; Milford and Evans get a lot of credit for making plays when their team needs them. Brooks is yet to really do this and games like we had against the Cowboys last season or our loss to the Raiders is when he needs to take over.

Looking forward to watching Brooks this season…getting to a stage of enough games under his belt to take more control…

Think it will be a breakout year for him …our season will be the better for it…if we can give him a pack of workers.instead of show pomies…he will thrive…

Can’t remember the exact figures but I saw some stats that compared Brooks playing alongside Anasta to other players such as Austin and Moses in 2014. The stats showed Brooks played miles better with Anasta, largely in the form of reduced errors, missed tackles etc.

While I rate Austin and Moses over Anasta, Brooks mentioned many times that he felt immensely less pressure when playing with Anasta. I think that we have to consider that Moses and Brooks playing together must be very straining for the two, particularly that they don’t have workhorse back rowers minding them.

Once Brooks and Moses are more confident defenders we will see a huge difference in their game. Moses already started to show it at the end of the year. He would commit himself to tackles and it boosted his confidence. Brooks is not far behind

I like Brooks a lot in that I reckon he has a real go. I also think he has a lot of talent. I reckon Moses is in the same boat.

At the same time they both need to kick on and win games for us. I reckon they can do it but time will tell how good they are.

Like the above post, I agree that he’s not that far behind, but statistics can be used to show anything. And showing all the ‘good’ stats are going to show you the good picture. What does the picture show when you include unforced errors, missed tackles, etc. I think you find if you compare them against the half pack, they start to show the 2015 WT season. Like everyone else, hit those 1%ers and we rule out the 7 for being a reason 2016 doesn’t pan out.

@Nors05:

Can’t remember the exact figures but I saw some stats that compared Brooks playing alongside Anasta to other players such as Austin and Moses in 2014. The stats showed Brooks played miles better with Anasta, largely in the form of reduced errors, missed tackles etc.

While I rate Austin and Moses over Anasta, Brooks mentioned many times that he felt immensely less pressure when playing with Anasta. I think that we have to consider that Moses and Brooks playing together must be very straining for the two, particularly that they don’t have workhorse back rowers minding them.

Once Brooks and Moses are more confident defenders we will see a huge difference in their game. Moses already started to show it at the end of the year. He would commit himself to tackles and it boosted his confidence. Brooks is not far behind

The first paragraph sums things up well. I often see fellow forumers that generally show a good understanding of the game having a go at Anasta, yet he was only doing what was asked of him and that was to direct the side whilst taking a back seat, which was quite obvious and which he did well.

I like Brooks and have posted as such, but certainly agree with KS on the forward pass issue.

I really like Brooks but until the forwards stand up and be more aggressive he won’t have the space he needs to be the playmaker we want him to be. Look at all the top halfbacks and most have had dominant forwards leading the way. Until the pigs start aiming up we won’t see the best of Brooks.

Well hopefully he pulls his finger out at training as the last report suggested he was towards the back of the pack as far as fitness goes.

Good post Mac, but you are going to get the “stats can be used to prove anything” responses - already one above.

I actually don’t think Brooks is that maligned, outside of over-critical Tigers fans. My non-Tigers supporting mates don’t refer to him as some one-year wonder or rookie who can’t take his game to the next level. The consensus I hear is that he is not really living up to the hype, but the hype was always going to be unreasonable. They say he’s doing ok, as a young half might.

Your Milford comparison is quite appropriate - one wonders how Brooks’ season might have looked if he was playing for the Broncos, i.e. with a supporting and firing half, brick-wall defence, plenty of go-forward, astute coach, representative options out wide.

It’s a bit obvious to say, but I think the missed tackle stats are Brooks’ great undoing. And it’s not just the tackles he falls off, but the bad reads that lead to line breaks. I watched several games live from behind the posts last year, and personally I think Brooks is one of the worst defensive readers in our team (of the first-choice players). Teams might put big units 1-1 with Moses, but Moses typically puts his body in the right place; you can hardly blame Moses if he gets isolated and cannot stop a Boyd Cordner from 3 metres out. Brooks, on the other hand… teams run the second-man play at him all day and it works.

Brooks also has a frustrating ability to give great chase in cover, because he is fast, but still fail to shut down the play. Must have seen at least 6 times in 2015 Brooks get wrong-footed or brushed off after doing a great job to be in place to cover defend. The Anthony Don match-winner against Titans (LO) always comes to mind.

That being said, I think his attack is acceptable. He has yet to really dominate consecutive games, and he sometimes falls apart when we need a solid play or to close out a game, but he’s also not an abject failure.

He plays how I expect a 21 year old, sub-50 game player to play. By comparison, Ben Hunt has played 141 matches and arguably only come on in the last 1-1.5 seasons. Milford has played 70 games. DCE has clocked 128, Shaun Johnson 101, Adam Reynolds 99… even a puppy like Luke Keary has managed the same 47 games as Brooks.

By the end of 2016 we should have a really good idea if he is headed for stardom or not. Last year I was not convinced he was going make it to the elite level,his play did not seem instinctive and at times he seemed hesitant,than you look at his stats,look at the way the team was firing and I am optimistic that he will a have a really good year.

Plenty of people who make a living out of the game rate him highly and I guess there will be plenty of clubs trying to get his signature,so he must have plenty of talent

Halves can’t survive without good forward packs going forward in attack and able to look after their halves in defence

Brooks need help , and until he gets it , particularly defensively he will struggle big time

We all will be kissing the ground he walks on in the next few years!

Great post…