Brooks clears air with Cleary over potential Nathan reunion
Author Alicia Newton Timestamp Tue 12 Dec 2017, 03:00 PM
Wests Tigers halfback Luke Brooks insists he feels no added pressure after Ivan Cleary admitted the likelihood of him coaching son Nathan one day was inevitable.
The sudden depth in the halves at the club is set to keep the pressure on Brooks to deliver next season, but the 22-year-old said he wasn’t worried about Cleary’s recent comments.
Brooks is set to come off contract at the same time as Nathan in 2019 after agreeing to a new two-year deal in April.
“I didn’t read much into it,” Brooks told NRL.com.
"Ivan spoke to me about it and said he’s got faith in me and wants me to be the halfback.
“He said not to worry about what was said so that was good of him to do that.”
Brooks has welcomed the chance to line up alongside an experienced playmaker again after Tigers legend Benji Marshall and former Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs five-eighth Josh Reynolds opted to link with the joint-venture club in 2018.
Brooks was 18 when he made his NRL debut alongside Marshall five years ago – the only game the pair played together before the fan favourite left for a stint in rugby union.
“He was my idol growing up,” Brooks said of Marshall.
"I was training with him as a teenager and watched on from the sidelines as he helped the club win the grand final in 2005.
“It’s great he’s back and I can’t wait to play alongside him again and the reaction he’ll bring to the fans.”
Marshall spoke openly of his disappointment of being unable to play more games alongside Brooks at the time of his departure but can now provide experience the highly-rated halfback needs to advance his career.
Wests Tigers have not made the finals since 2011 and Brooks admitted he was still searching for a level of consistency to his game.
He was hampered by a hamstring injury throughout last season but finished the year well as the side notched three wins in their last five games.
“I’ve got a lot to work on,” Brooks said.
"Controlling the game is the most important thing and getting those last-play options right. If you’re getting those things right everything else tends to happen a lot better.
“We didn’t do that well last season. If you’re not thinking about setting up tries it tends to just happen. That’s definitely something that Ivan wants me to get better at.”
Cleary has bought 10 players after the exits of local juniors Mitchell Moses, Aaron Woods and James Tedesco, and no recruit has brought more energy than Reynolds.
The former NSW representative joins Marshall, Chris McQueen, Ben Matulino and Russell Packer as key men set to take the club into a new era in 2018.
“They’ve brought a lot of experience to a club that we didn’t have with a young squad this year,” Brooks said.
"Josh has been leading the way in fitness and on the field he plays what he sees. I didn’t have a whole lot to do with him before he came, I met him a few times but we’re getting along good. He’s a great bloke off the field and is one of those players you don’t like playing but you want on your team.
“Ben Matulino and Russell Packer are Kiwi internationals who have played in big games. I’ll be able to control the team and we’ll play off the back of them.”