It sent shockwaves through the NRL community when seasoned halfback Luke Brooks, who spent eleven seasons with the Wests Tigers, embarked on a new chapter in his career by joining the Manly Sea Eagles on a four-year deal, inking the deal before the end of the 2023 season.
Known for his humble demeanor, Brooks endured over a decade with the Tigers without tasting the sweetness of finals footy. Despite being a key cog in the team's spine over such a long time, a spot in the finals remained elusive. Tigers fans, while recognising his commitment and work ethic, yearned for results on the board, which Brooks ultimately couldn't deliver.
The 28-year-old playmaker now finds himself donning the maroon and white jersey of the Sea Eagles, where he's set to take the reins as the starting five-eighth. This move has led to a reshuffling in the Sea Eagles' lineup, pushing Josh Schuster into the back row after the silky-hands unit failed to land any blows throughout the 2023 campaign.
Brooks, once touted as a future representative halfback in his early Tigers days, believes the change in scenery will alleviate the pressure that he carried in his previous role. Now partnered with Australian Kangaroos' halfback Daly Cherry-Evans, Brooks is eager to showcase his skills in a team boasting multiple superstars.
Brooks has spoken about the need to step out of his comfort zone, and his excitement about joining a squad with a number of big talents could see him bring out career form.
“There's so much strike. That's one of the big reasons why I decided to come here was to play with those quality players. It's very exciting for me to have a lot of speed and big bodies that will definitely help my game," gushed Brooks.
“I bring a good running game and I think that'll suit their side. Hopefully, they bring the best out of me and I can bring the best out of them as well.”
While he anticipates some boos from Tigers faithful when facing his former team, many still regard him as a good bloke who gave his all to the club. Despite the move, Brooks harbours fond memories of his time at the Tigers and wishes them success under the leadership of their new coach and former Tigers legend, Benji Marshall.
Manly coach Anthony Seibold has taken a deliberate approach in allowing Brooks to lay low. Seibold recognises the scapegoating Brooks endured during the Tigers' challenging periods and aims to provide him with an environment where he can thrive without the burden of constant criticism.
At 28, Brooks is entering what could be the prime years of his career, and with a change in scenery, he looks set to make the most of the opportunity to prove himself as a pivotal force in the Sea Eagles' quest for premiership glory.