Young Tigers thriving on belief
Wests Tigers halfback Luke Brooks believes the club is in the best shape it's been in since the beginning of his career.
A small turnover of players at the Tigers ahead of the 2017 Telstra Premiership season shows that consistency is key for coach Jason Taylor's men.
While they'll have to make do without veteran utility Dene Halatau in 2017, the losses of Robbie Farah and Curtis Sironen are offset by the fact both had limited NRL game time at the back end of last season.
"I think we're building towards something special," Brooks said.
"All the boys in the group have had a great pre-season so far. There's a bit of belief there that we can really build on the back of what we did towards the end of last season," Brooks said.
"We didn't make the top eight but it's something at the front of our minds in 2017. We started to believe in ourselves and what we can achieve as a team."
The Tigers haven't played finals football since 2011 as a host of rookies have looked to establish themselves in the NRL.
But five-eighth Mitchell Moses said the Tigers' youthful makeup isn't an excuse they can lean on next year.
"I took on a leadership role and took it upon myself to lead from the front," Moses said of his outstanding form in 2016.
"It wasn't just me, the players around me took a leadership role. We are all young players in that side and played together the last couple of years.
"There is no more excuses saying we're too young."
Speaking at New South Wales Origin's Specialist Pathways training at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday afternoon, Brooks was blown away by the talent on display.
Brooks and Moses were joined by 40 other young players between the ages of 14 and 22 in position-specific sessions run by such Blues legends as Mark O'Meley, Anthony Minichiello and Danny Buderus.
Brooks said it was important to impart some of his own wisdom on the young cohort, coincidentally on the day he celebrated his 22nd birthday.
"I guess there's little tips about coming into first grade that I can give them. They're at that age where they're just starting to break through the ranks and experience footy as a career," Brooks said.
"Whether it's training or other stuff off the field, I'm here to give them tips about what to expect."
Moses went on to express his high hopes of a New South Wales Origin berth in the near future.
"I'd love to play [Origin] next year. That's my next goal in what I want to do and the next rep side I want to make," he said.
"If I keep playing the footy I was playing towards the end of last year then it's up to the selectors."