Brooks turning pressure into positivity
He's only 21 years old and starting just his third NRL campaign but Wests Tigers Luke Brooks is ready to transfer the constant scrutiny and pressure he has braved into positivity for some of the club's younger squad members.
Brooks has been forced to carry the hopes of his side from a very young age and he now finds himself older than eight players currently in Jason Taylor's extended training squad.
Meanwhile other 1994 babies Mitch Moses, Manaia Cherrington, Nathan Milone, Chance Peni, Dallas Graham and Jordan Grant are certainly not as NRL savvy as Brooks.
"The more games you play, the more you get used to [the pressure]. The experience you gain definitely helps a lot," Brooks told NRL.com.
"There are obviously a few of the younger boys here that haven't played first grade who have been training with us so it's a matter for me to help those guys out too.
"It's a position I've been in before so it's good to be able to help out. As a halfback I'm always learning new things too so it's not so unusual that I'm still developing either.
"Being a young club and naturally growing together is something we can only build on from here."
With speculation rife about where he and halves partner Moses's future lies beyond 2016, Brooks admitted the constant gossiping of his career did get frustrating.
While there is an option in both players' contracts to extend their tenure at the Wests Tigers until at least 2017, Brooks is hoping to let his football do the talking first and foremost.
"It can be a bit frustrating when people say stuff when they don't know what's going on but it's a part of being an NRL player. You just have to put up with it," Brooks said.
"It's not off-putting. I haven't thought about it too much, I've just been concentrating on playing well in the trials and just getting ready for the start of the season."
Brooks is also frustrated he won't play part in the Tigers' season opener against the Warriors due to suspension. Cited for a dangerous throw on St George Illawarra winger Jason Nightingale in the Tigers' final game of 2015, Brooks has been a spectator at training in recent times as the team revs up preparations for Round 1.
"It's pretty frustrating not being able to play but that's just the way it is. I'm just looking forward to the trial this weekend and moving on to better things in Round 2," he said.
"They're looking to Round 1 at the moment so it has been hard to watch training from the sidelines."