Brooks hoping for Leichhardt turnaround
After losing their past two games at their spiritual home ground of Leichhardt Oval, Wests Tigers are desperate to repay the home ground faithful on Sunday against Penrith.
Leichhardt Wanderers junior Luke Brooks expressed disappointment at both a lacklustre last-start 27-20 loss to the Titans in Round 13 at the iconic venue as well as a stunning 30-22 loss after being 22-0 up against Canberra in Round 7 at the same ground.
"The past few games we haven't won at Leichhardt so that's something we're looking to turn around against Penrith. Hopefully we can do it for the fans who come out there," Brooks said.
"We're hoping for a big crowd out at Leichhardt, especially on a Sunday arvo. A big crowd would be good for us."
Boosting the chances of a packed Leichhardt Hill: Sunday looks like being something of a rarity in that fair weather is forecast after rain has affected a majority of Leichhardt games in the past 12 months.
"The past two years it seems like every time we play there it rains. At the moment it's looking alright so let's hope it stays that way," Brooks added.
The Panthers will have the edge in terms of playmaking experience on Sunday, with veteran duo Peter Wallace and Jamie Soward facing off against Tigers young-guns Brooks and Mitchell Moses.
The latter though has struck form in recent weeks with two tries and a try assist in the loss to Manly last week, while Brooks himself earned one try and two assists the week before in the win over Souths.
The pair's kicking game has also come to the fore, racking up over 1,000 combined kicking metres in the absence of hooker Robbie Farah over the past fortnight.
"He's definitely been playing some good footy over the past few weeks which has been good for his confidence and good for the team," said Brooks, who also identified the kicking game of Soward and Wallace as a threat to the Tigers on Sunday.
"It [the kicking game] is something me and Mitch have been working on and hopefully we can get our kicking game on song," Brooks said.
"[Penrith]are a bit unpredictable. They've had plenty of injuries. We know how they feel because last year we were that way.
"It can be hard sometimes with players out injured and new players coming in all the time. In saying that they're still a good team with good players all over the park."
Brooks said it was frustrating to know the side is capable of such a complete performance as the one it produced against Souths in Round 15 but not to be able to back it up, having slid to a 30-20 defeat at Brookvale last week.
"It's a big frustrating when we play the way we did against Souths and then the next week we didn't back it up," Brooks said.
"We need to turn that around and have a good 80 minute performance and build off the back of that.
"It's a very tight competition so a few wins can get you back into the top eight. Hopefully we can start this weekend and build out season off the back of that... If we can string a few wins together we're right back in the mix."
The Tigers halfback believes the side lacked the same intensity last week that it had the week before.
"In the Souths game we were coming off the back of four losses so we really needed that win," he said.
"Last week we dropped a bit after the win against Souths. That's something we've really tried to pick up at training."
Prop Aaron Woods suggested the Panthers were playing better than their current 11th-place billing suggested.
"They've had a lot of injuries [but] I think they've got a couple back this week as well, they did lose [James] Segeyaro this week which will be a big blow for them then you've got a premiership winner Api Koroisau coming in," Woods said.
"They've got the players there. I think they're a bit like us at the moment, they've got patches where they play well and patches where they don't. Whoever puts an 80 minute performance in this week will probably go a long way to winning."
Woods was particularly impressed with the efforts of skilful back-rower Bryce Cartwright last week.
In the view of Woods, like many others, Cartwright was the best player on the park in an amazing two-try effort in a losing cause against Canterbury last Saturday.
"I watched Cartwright last week, I thought he was one of the best on the field in a losing side too. The skill and footwork for the big man, he goes really well," Woods said.