Luke Brooks comes of age with masterclass against Manly

Luke Brooks comes of age with masterclass against Manly
By Andrew Webster 15 April 2018 — 8:30pm

Luke Brooks came of age in the middle of Brookvale Oval yesterday afternoon, but before we get to that let’s go back to the middle of the SCG five years ago. Brooks was considered an 18-year-old whiz kid back then. He was already being compared to Andrew Johns and Benji Marshall, who at the time had been squeezed out of the Wests Tigers halves and, in time, would ultimately be squeezed out of the club.

“I just want him to be the next Luke Brooks,” said Mick Potter, the Tigers coach at the time. Then a baby-faced Brooks trotted out onto the hallowed turf of the cricket ground on a sparkling Saturday afternoon in August and unfurled a debut for the ages against St George Illawarra. Distraught Dragons fans headed straight to the bar at halftime, so dominant had Brooks been. Very few Next Big Things, though, ever live up to the hype. It takes most ball players five or six years to truly understand their trade, to feel comfortable in their skin. Ask Johns. Ask Marshall. Ask all of them. In the five years since that afternoon at the SCG, Brooks has tried to reach the lofty expectations of others but failed to meet them.

By anyone’s standards, his commanding performance in the Tigers’ 38-12 embarrassment of the Sea Eagles on their home turf yesterday was as good as it gets. And he did it alongside Marshall, who scored a try each side of halftime and looks as comfortable in a black-and-gold No.6 jumper as he did in 2005. ‘‘I get to see it,’’ Marshall oozed when asked about the evolution of Brooks. ‘‘I get the front row seat. He’s matured a lot since I was here last. The one thing he was always good at was running the ball. He’s been outstanding at that. He’s not feeling the pressure and expectation that he once had.’’
Tigers coach Ivan Cleary was so impressed that he didn’t flinch when asked if Brooks should be included in the NSW halfback conversation for State of Origin. ‘‘I think he deserves to be spoken about because he’s in good form,’’ Cleary said. ‘‘Whether he does or not … I thought he and Benji played really well. The reality is when these two guys do their thing and step up it looks up for us.’’

It took about five minutes for Brooks to grab this match by the throat, a deft grubber kick setting up the opening try for Chris Lawrence. It was Brooks’ vision that set up the second for Malakai Watene-Zelezniak after he pivoted and changed direction, darting down the left before releasing Kevin Naiqama downfield. And it was Brooks who took on the line in the 30th minute and scored all on his own. The Tigers’ 5-1 start to the season makes the club’s dramas from a year ago, when coach Jason Taylor was sacked and local juniors James Tedesco, Mitchell Moses and Aaron Woods all signed with other clubs, a distant memory. Brooks’ form was so poor at times last year that you could almost see the dollars falling off his next contract.

Now, he’s playing far better footy than the three former teammates who left for other clubs. Now, he’s formed a potent combination with Marshall and only Cleary knows how he’ll fit $800,000-a-season recruit Josh Reynolds in the mix when he is fully fit. Reynolds, who was returning from a hamstring injury, came on in the 50th minute and played some time at hooker. For their part, Manly were dreadful. In their previous two matches at Brookvale, against Parramatta and Canberra, the fans gave the players a standing ovation as they ran up the tunnel at halftime. Down 26-0 at the break, the Manly players were booed. Coach Trent Barrett has rarely gone nuclear in his three seasons at the club but, according to those who heard it, unleashed at halftime. In the second half, Sea Eagles legend Steve Menzies was seen walking in front of the main grandstand. “Put the boots on Beaver!” pleaded one fan. Soon after, the ground announcer told the crowd of 15,546 there was a players’ meet-and-greet session back at the Leagues Club after the match. Most of the fans laughed. Then many of them left.

But when we win, it’s always the opposition played poorly lol….I’m enjoying this to be honest, going in under the radar.

I think Luke deserves praise at the moment but on the other hand think he has to keep delivering to truely meet his potential. Happy to watch on as he continues to develop.

So pleased it’s all coming together for Luke. 👍
He stayed loyal when the other 3 walked.
Now he’s reaping the reward.
Can’t say the same for a certain Mr. Moses, pictured in tears after yet another Eels loss - even if it is every other players fault. 😆

I’m one of Brooks biggest critics, yesterday was the best I’ve seen him KICK!!! and run but more importantly kick.

My biggest gripe with him has been his kicking game I think if he can really focus on quality ends to our sets we’ll be contenders.
We’ve been desperately in need of someone who can control the game with his boot.
I think it has also opened up his running game also.

Is it time to re sign Brooks before someone else does
I know it’s only early days but Geez he is playing with confidence

Prior to season start, how many on this forum wanted this kids head, and who the hell 6 months ago would have thought Luke brooks would be in the mix for SOO halfback 2018??

What a difference a coach, a decent halves partner and a solid forward pack can make.

Thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle yesterday, let the good times roll.

Reynolds price tag seems to escalate every article that is written….

As for brooksy, absolutely killing it. Really happy for the bloke.

His kicks have constantly hit the mark this year. They have been really well weighed.
Our forwards have also been fantastic this year. Giving him a little more time.
The biggest change for mine is now he is playing like he is running the team. Without RF and Moses. Brooks has come into his own.

The two performances against Melbourne when the game was really tight and against the players he was up against would have given him so much confidence. To do it twice in four weeks against the Premiers proved it was no fluke. Playing against Manly looked like fun for him.
I know it’s early in the season and to have Ivan as coach should help keep a lid on things….but , If you look at the opposition halves he has come up against this year. Cronk, Croft, Moses, Niko, DCE, I don’t think you could say anything of these highly rated halves have outplayed Brooks.

At the end of last season, I had no confidence that Brooks could lead the team, ever, full stop. In the pre season, with Brooks saying that he had control of the team now in news articles, I was not convinced thinking it was just more talk.
Well I have to pull my head in. Yesterday he walked the walk. What a joy. I’m really happy that he is playing with such confidence and control.

he has the most points for dally m player of the year so far


he has the most points for dally m player of the year so far

But can he hold his lead? Let’s hope so.

Cronk saying tonight that to be considered for SOO, Brooks needs to lead our team to semis and then perform in semi final football. In other words, sustain his form. I tend to agree.

it is amazing how well he is performing this season, even in defence he has improved. who could believe he had it in him. Could his grubbers improve if he angled them greater to give more opportunity for the chasers?

Ive been one of his biggest critics….glad hes turned it around.
His forwards are laying the platform, hes had that before…its gotta be Cleary & Benji giving him the confidence & maturity were seeing

I saw him run very early in the game on Sunday, always a good sign. I want to see how he reacts next time he runs early in a game…and gets crunched

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