Brooks building defence under Taylor
Throughout the 90s and early 2000s, Wests Tigers coach Jason Taylor was one of the smallest halfbacks running around on a rugby league paddock.
Boasting 276 games across 12 seasons of rugby league, Taylor is the man now responsible for the development of a young halfback of similar stature, Luke Brooks.
As Brooks prepares for his second full season of NRL football, the modern day game dictates that the reigning Dally M Rookie of the Year will be targeted by opposition defences despite the 20-year-old having six centremetres and 13 kilograms on his coach.
Last year Brooks missed a whopping 116 tackles, at a rate of 5.5 missed tackles per game, and the halfback is not shying away from the fact his defence needs work.
"It's something I definitely need to fix and it's the one thing I know I need to improve on from last year," Brooks told NRL.com.
With former enforcers Rod 'Rocket' Reddy and David Kidwell on the Tigers coaching staff, Brooks has focused in on finding a tackling technique which will be beneficial for both his team and for his longevity in first grade.
"JT has done a fair bit with me but Kidwell and Rocket have been helping me out enormously at training. For me, it's just a matter of me fixing up a few little areas with my tackling technique," Brooks said.
"Being a smaller bloke it's definitely harder for me to try and wrap up the ball because the opposition is just going to bump me off so I think it's just a matter of me finding a place of comfort where I can hit them and get them down – or at least make contact and wait for the other players to help me put them down."
While he doesn't quite remember watching Taylor play, with the Holy Cross Rhinos junior running around in the Under 7s when his coach retired at the end of 2001, Brooks was nonetheless excited to play under his new coach as he looks to transfer his NYC halves partnership with Mitchell Moses to the NRL.
"When I found out JT was going to be coach it was brilliant. Straight away I was excited and I just couldn't wait to start working with him," Brooks said.
"I know he was a great player and I think it will only be beneficial for me being a halfback. He's been in my position so he knows what needs to happen for me to improve.
"The more I play and the more training I do [under his eye] the more confident I get within myself.
"It's obviously a huge step up [for Mitchell and I] but everyone has faith in us and I guess the more games we play together the more confident we'll get."