Wests Tigers halfback Luke Brooks is in control and ready to rock
MICHAEL CARAYANNIS, The Sunday Telegraph
January 20, 2018 2:28pm
FOR so long, Luke Brooks worked in the shadows, wrestling for control as he struggled to find his voice.
The Tigers were once Brett Hodgson and Scott Prince’s team before becoming the Benji Marshall-Robbie Farah show.
For the past couple of seasons it has been about James Tedesco, Mitchell Moses and Aaron Woods.
But now the path is clear for Brooks. “It’s definitely my team,” he says with confidence — not arrogance — after a gruelling fitness session at Concord this week.
Luke Brooks is definitely the man in charge at West Tigers. Picture: David Swift.
Brooks has gone solo after the breakup of the Fab Four. And he believes having his closest friends leave the club will bring out the best in him.
It has already helped him find his voice, knowing he has no toes to step on and no safety net of best friends to rely on. For Brooks, the mass turnover on the Wests Tigers roster has given the place a new vibe.
“It’s been different coming in first day of pre-season,” Brooks said. “It felt like I joined a new club. It’s been good. A bit of a change will be good for us.
“The coaches want me to take control of the team. (Coach Ivan Cleary) saying that to me gives me confidence that it’s now my team. Hopefully that helps all the other players.
Luke Brooks feels free to be the dominant playmaker. Picture: David Swift.
“It’s been easier for me to talk (to the new players coming in). With friends they know what you’re like but with new players you’re going to have to talk. That’s made it easier for me.”
Moses and Brooks were junior stars. They were players the Tigers had hoped to build around for a decade. But Brooks is relishing life post-Moses as he looks to form a new combination with Josh Reynolds.
“We did click but we are both dominant players,” Brooks said of his partnership with Moses. “You’ve seen with Mitch when he went to Parra, he is playing halfback and is the dominant half. That’s probably the reason it didn’t click as much. In juniors when we were playing, it was a bit different coming into grade.
There has been halves upheaval across the NRL.
“When Josh first signed we spoke to each about him being a natural five-eighth and I’m a natural halfback so that works well.
“I can be at first receiver and he can be at second. That will be a benefit for us.”
Cleary wants Brooks to be at first receiver as much as possible, allowing the 23-year-old to float on either side of the field. Now 83 games into his career, Brooks is yet to play finals football.
“It’s time for me to take it to that next level,” he said. “I need to play consistent footy.
Brooks is happy to be working with, not against, Josh Reynolds. Picture: AAP
“Playing good week in, week out is something I’ve struggled with. Hopefully, having these experienced players can help me with that.
“I need to work on game management. In the past I’ve worried about setting up tries and putting on good plays when I probably didn’t need to.
“I needed to think about getting good completions to the sets and getting the team around the park. The rest will come out the back of that … not looking for tries all the time.’’
The returning Marshall has also played a significant hand in Brooks’ development.
“It’s like having another coach there,’’ Brooks said.