SourceBenji Marshall gutted he can't play alongside young gun Luke Brooks
November 14, 2013
Rugby League Writer
Cool-hand Luke: Wests Tigers' teenage halfback Luke Brooks. Photo: Brendan Esposito
Benji Marshall says one of his major regrets in leaving Wests Tigers is not being able to play alongside halfback Luke Brooks more often.
Marshall, soon to begin official training with the Auckland Blues following his switch of codes, believes Brooks is a ''star of the future'' - although he prefaced that by saying Tigers supporters needed to be patient with the 18-year-old. ''He is definitely a long-term solution for seven,'' the former Tigers five-eighth said. ''He's just so natural, controlling a team. I certainly wish I got to play a few more times with him, to maybe help him out a bit, teach him a few things, and I also think he could have relieved a bit of the pressure off me. He's definitely got the talent and the skill, and I'd be shocked if he didn't make a big go of it. I think he's a star of the future.''
But then the kicker: ''People have got to remember that he's played one first-grade game. And he killed it - but … initially the expectations can't be too high.
''He's definitely got what takes, and if he keeps working hard - the way he does - he'll definitely make it, but expectations can hurt people. I just hope people don't expect too much out of him too early.''
Brooks' debut, against St George Illawarra in round 24, also coincided with one of Marshall's best performances of his final season with the Tigers. Brooks was superb but, being part of the Tigers' second-tier salary cap, it would be his only match in the NRL squad in 2013. He is, though, clearly seeded No.1 to play halfback next year, and Marshall can see why.
''He's got the talent and he trains hard,'' he said. ''He's a great defender, has a great kicking game and he controls a team. All those attributes will take him a long way. There's no doubt he's the long-term solution for the club at seven - which has probably been missing since 'Princey' [Scott Prince] left really.
''I made my decision to move on, but after watching what 'Brooksy' can do, and after spending a bit of time with him, I would have liked a bit more time to play alongside him. He doesn't shy away from any of the physical aspects of the game. He gets his shoulders in there, has a massive go, he's got a great kicking game - he's got probably one of the finest touches I've seen, for a kid. And he's got a big boot.
"He needs to speak up a bit more, but that comes with time. I haven't seen any young guy step into a team at his age and straight away order the older guys around. He's definitely capable, he just needs to find that voice, and that confidence. As long as everyone doesn't expect that straight away, he'll find that in the future."
Marshall, who will begin training with his new Auckland Blues teammates later this month, agreed with the common feeling at Concord that five-eighth Mitchell Moses was still some time off making his debut.
Yeah, it's great to finally have a long term solution at halfback. Things were looking up with Lui.