A wiser Luke Brooks is on the verge of playing his first game for the Tigers in the post-Mitchell Moses era, but took time to defend his housemate who has endured a rocky start at Parramatta.
Brooks and Tui Lolohea will combine in the halves for the first time when the No.7 returns from a hamstring injury against the State of Origin-starved Sharks before he lends his support to Moses for the out-of-sorts Eels’ clash with the Dragons.
And despite lining up for the first time this year with a different person than Moses wearing the No.6, Brooks has urged the mid-season defector’s critics to ease up on the Parramatta half as he tries to settle into Brad Arthur’s regime.
“In the position he’s in, and not having a pre-season and going straight into the side and trying to take control of it … it’s going to be tough,” Brooks said. “It’s going to take him a few weeks.
“It’s easy to remember plays, but once you’re out there and tired, a lot of things happen. It would be tough. He’ll be right. Once he starts to get those combos … it will take him a couple of weeks and then he’ll be sweet.”
Moses’ exit has lumped Brooks with extra responsibility at Concord under Ivan Cleary – at least until Josh Reynolds arrives from the Bulldogs next year.
The Brooks-Lolohea scrum-base pairing might only be temporary, but it is one that could unsettle the Sharks, who will be without five Origin stars for the visit of the Tigers at Southern Cross Group Stadium on Saturday night.
Brooks admitted watching from the stands during the past month would enhance his game as the Tigers desperately seek to rectify their season, which is threatening to fizzle out long before the finals.
“I don’t really like [watching],” Brooks said. “I get pretty frustrated to be honest. [But] I think you can see a lot more from where you’re sitting in the stands. You get a different view of the game, which is sort of a good thing.
“Maybe a little bit of [extra responsibility is on me now]. I know I have to take control and this is my team now – and I’m looking forward to that. It’s going to be a good challenge for me and I hope it brings out the best in me.
“[It’s my] first game with Tui, who is a great player. If we can get him running, which is the strongest part of his game when he takes on the line as he’s got great strength and footwork, [it will be fine]. We’ll get him running and I’m excited to play with him.”
The two sides were embroiled in a spiteful contest earlier this year at Leichhardt Oval when Aaron Woods was injured, forcing him to miss the Kangaroos’ Test win over New Zealand, and Tigers coach Cleary accused Paul Gallen of diving, robbing the hosts of a crucial try.
“It’s in the rules and if you get touched you can go down,” Brooks said. “It’s part of the game. We can take a bit of confidence from that game, barring 20 minutes. If we play for the full 80 we can match it with most teams.”