Tigers halfback Luke Brooks hails his new protectors in the forward pack
THEY’RE the Kiwi protectors that have Tigers halfback Luke Brooks brimming with confidence heading into Saturday’s season-opener against the Roosters.
Star recruits Russell Packer and Ben Matulino have significantly strengthened the Tigers pack following the departures of Aaron Woods and Ava Seumanufagai.
As the team’s playmaker, Brooks is pumped at the prospect of playing alongside Packer and Matulino.
He admits it was difficult playing behind a young pack in the past, especially against the barnstorming Roosters, but he is buzzing about the club’s new enforcers.
“Their experience gives me a lot of confidence,” Brooks said about Packer and Matulino.
“That’s where the game will be won, because the Roosters have got a massive pack.
Ben Matulino in a trial against the Sharks.
“But we’ve got some big boys ourselves now that will really beef-up our front row.
“In the past our forwards have only been young boys and we’ve only had the one or two experienced first graders.
“Now we’ve got about four or five in the pack and that is definitely going to help us on and off the field.”
Brooks reserved particular praise for Packer, who
“Russell has been great, especially off the field with his talk,” he said.
“With his experience he has a lot of knowledge of the game, so that really helps us.”
Packer is equally enthused about joining forces with Matulino in a bid to transform the Tigers from pretenders to contenders.
“Ben and I were signed as experienced first grade players,” Packer said.
“I guess with that experience brings expectation, but throughout the course of our careers people know what to expect from us.
“I know I’m up for that challenge by leading the way on the field.”
Packer says Matulino, his former Warriors teammate, was a major reason why he left St George Illawarra for the Tigers.
“The club had signed Ben prior to me coming,” he said.
“Plus a few old relationships with Ivan and Elijah (Taylor) from the Warriors played a role for me.
“There is a bit of familiarity there and that made my decision a little bit easier.”