LUKE Brooks is first to admit he isn’t playing his best football, but he has a resounding message for the critics suggesting he isn’t taking his football seriously enough.
After three weeks on the sideline with a hamstring injury, Brooks says he is still trying to find his form and fitness in a struggling Wests Tigers outfit.
He produced a disappointing display in the Tigers’ 26-14 loss to the Gold Coast last Friday, prompting Channel 9 commentator Phil Gould to deliver a scathing critique.
Gould called on the young half to “take a hard look at himself”, while he suggested someone should sit down with him to ask how seriously he wanted to be a footballer.
Brooks didn’t hear Gould’s spray because he was in the sheds post-match, but said the criticism will inspire him to reach greater heights.
“It does motivate you a little bit,” Brooks told The Daily Telegraph.
“To be honest I didn’t hear any of it and I haven’t watched the game back.
“But it’s easy watching it from the sideline. Everyone has got an opinion.
“Obviously my last game wasn’t my best and I’m not making excuses, but it’s just something where I have to find some form.
“It’s my second week back from injury, so I’m just trying to get a bit of confidence back.
“Our whole team isn’t playing the best at the moment, but as long as we keep working hard we’ll get there.”
Brooks says he is working hard at training, especially on his combination with the club’s recruit Tuimoala Lolohea.
He has only played two matches alongside the former Warrior and says the pair can’t be expected to click straight away.
“It takes a while to get that combo going,” he said.
“We’ve also changed the way we play a bit since I’ve been injured, so it’s just getting a few combinations right.
“But I think we are moving in the right direction and it’s something we are going to keep working at.”
Brooks concedes it has also taken him time to get used to playing without his long-serving halves partner Mitch Moses — who is now with Parramatta.
“I’ve only played two games without Mitch, so it will definitely take time,” he said.
“Plus, we’ve got a young side and a lot of players that have only played a handful of first grade games.
“But it is exciting in that I do have a bit more responsibility and that is something that I’ve got to keep working at”.
In a bid to rebuild the Tigers, coach Ivan Cleary has conducted an extensive recruitment drive for next season.
The joint-venture club has already signed Josh Reynolds, Chris McQueen, Russell Packer and Ben Matulino for next season, while they are also in the market for Roosters utility Connor Watson.
Brooks is excited about the Tigers’ future, but believes his side can’t afford to look too far ahead.
“It (the recruits) does give you confidence, but in saying that it is next year,” he said.
“We’ve still got nine or so rounds left this year, so we are just focused on playing good footy.
“If we can put in a good 80 minute performance, we will go a long way to winning.
“That’s our problem at the moment — we are not playing for the full 80 and it is costing us.”
The Tigers certainly can’t afford to clock off on Sunday when they take on the Knights in Newcastle.
The joint-venture club are in last position and must beat the Novocastrians to leap frog them off the bottom of the ladder.
In addition, the Wests Tigers have never claimed the wooden spoon and Brooks says it will provide his side with plenty of motivation.
“Hopefully we can get the win and get us off the bottom of the ladder,” he said.
“We’ve got a bye the weekend after, so it could be a four point game. It is a big game and they (Newcastle) will be hurting after their loss to the Dragons.
“So it’s going to be a tough one.”