Quiet achiever’ Luke Brooks would handle NSW halfback call-up, says Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire
Luke Brooks may be the reigning Dally M Halfback of the Year but the Wests Tigers playmaker has almost been forgotten in the debate about who should wear the NSW number seven.
While incumbent Nathan Cleary, Adam Reynolds, Luke Keary, Mitch Moses, Chad Townsend and Mitch Pearce have all received strong support for the job, Brooks has somewhat flown under the radar.
But the 24-year-old’s form this season has not been overlooked by Tigers coach Michael Maguire, who is backing Brooks to make the leap to rep football.
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Brooks, who is ranked fifth for try assists with seven and leads the NRL for line engagements, has played a key part in the Tigers’ five wins in 2019.
He was outstanding in their 30-4 victory over the Panthers last round, laying on two tries and claiming one of his own to set the tone in the opening exchanges.
“He’s the quiet achiever, I reckon, of what’s going on in the competition,” Maguire said.
"I think there’s a lot of good things happening in Brooksy’s game which is going to lift him to higher levels.
“He’s been doing that week in, week out, and I’ll keep it at that because I’ll let his actions do the talking - and that’s what he wants as well.”
Asked if Brooks would handle the pressure that comes with State of Origin selection, Maguire had no doubts.
“Definitely,” he answered.
Before arriving at the Tigers, Maguire coached terrific halfbacks like Reynolds, Cooper Cronk, Thomas Leuluai and Brett Finch during his career in the NRL and Super League.
The premiership-winning former Rabbitohs and Wigan mentor believes Brooks is well on his way to cementing himself among them as an elite player in his position.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a few halves along my time,” Maguire said.
"And I think there’s areas of his game that he’s still working hard at which can propel him into those sort of games [Origin].
"But the only way you do that is by getting out this weekend and doing it again.
“I’m sure in time it’ll happen. If he keeps working the way he is, him wanting to grow his game, there are no reasons why he can’t put himself into that space.”
Brooks faces a thorough examination of his NSW credentials on Thursday versus the third-placed Melbourne Storm, who are coming off a 64-10 romp against Parramatta.
The Tigers upset Melbourne twice last season and Maguire is optimistic his side can trump the odds again.
“One thing I do know is everyone is beatable at some stage,” he said.
“If we go down and perform at our best, that’s what we’re looking for.”
Maguire also revealed that hardworking back-rower Chris Lawrence is only a matter of weeks away from returning to action.