It was the sort of debut every Tigers fan would have been pleased to see from Luke Brooks as he finally got his chance in first-grade, though the downside of it all, is that he can no longer play in the NRL for the remainder of this year.
Due to second-tier salary cap restrictions, it was only by exemption that the Tigers were granted permission to play Brooks but under the current rules, such exemptions cannot apply when a team is playing against another one in the top eight.
Despite all that, it was a sign of what Tigers fans hope is to come, with Brooks scoring a try and setting one up, with Andrew Johns – perhaps the greatest halfback the game as ever seen – giving Brooks some kudos following his debut performance.
“Luke Brooks has lived up to all the expectations,” Johns said during commentary for Triple M.
“It’s been a boom debut.”
The win sees a six-week losing streak broken and has Tigers coach Mick Potter excited about the future and moving forward.
“My expectations were that he’d go okay and he probably exceeded that,” Potter said.
“It’s a good taste for him, I’m looking forward to next season for him, but we’ve still got two games to go.”
Potter said he would have liked to have had the opportunity to pick him again over the closing two rounds.
“…On today’s performance he looked alright. He’d be in contention Online Blackjack wouldn’t he?”
With Benji Marshall leaving and shifted into the centres as a result of Brooks coming in for this game, he had perhaps his best game of the season and feels like he is leaving the Tigers in good hands.
“Absolutely. I think the future of the club is definitely bright with the talent of Brooksy and a few of the other guys we’ve got coming through,” Marshall said.
“I feel like I’m leaving with the club in pretty good hands.”
For Brooks, he was just excited to have a crack in first-grade and play alongside the likes of Marshall.
“It was pretty good hey?” Brooks said when asked about finally getting his crack.
“… to play with boys like Benji who I’ve looked up to coming up through the grades and who have been my heroes coming up when I was younger (was great).”
It was the complete opposite for the St George Illawarra Dragons, with a dejected coach Steve Price fronting up at the press conference after the 34-18 loss.
Still aggrieved with the decision by the NRL to allow the exemption for the Tigers, Price said the club will look into it and assess it later this week.
“We clearly support Peter with how we went about it with the NRL this week which was a bit disappointing the outcome, but we’ll take that up next week,” Price said.
3. Tim Simona
2. James Tedesco
1. Luke Brooks