Brooks becomes the running man
Wests Tigers halfback Luke Brooks says he's 100 per cent over the hamstring injury that has plagued him in recent times and it's showing on the field with the talented playmaker on track to have his best season in terms of metres gained.
Running the ball hasn't always been a priority for the 22-year-old, but with new coach Ivan Cleary now at the helm, Brooks has been encouraged to take the line on more often and back himself against tiring defences.
In his first three full seasons in the NRL, Brooks averaged 51.8, 58 and 52.1 metres per game but he's set to obliterate those figures with the No.7 averaging 78 metres per game in 2017, including a career-high 177 against the Knights in Round 17.
Playing on both sides of the field as opposed to being pigeonholed on the left edge has given him more freedom to run the ball, as has the mid-season arrival of Tui Lolohea.
"I think when I was younger my strong suit was my running game," Brooks told NRL.com.
"I sort of went away from that over the last few years but now that I'm playing all over the field and not just the left side, that's opened up my running game and helped my game as a whole.
"I was probably more focussed on trying to set other people up when I would have been more of a threat if I'd run the ball myself. That's something I've been focussing on this season and Ivan's helped me and wants me to take the line on so that's what we've been doing.
"With the way we're playing now, it's freed me up as a traditional first-receiver with Tui floating out the back. That allows me to roam on both sides of the field and lets me get my hands on the ball more than what I have been when I'm stuck on the left.
"I feel like our combination is growing each week and he's a great player. He's really starting to take the line on which shows he's more comfortable in his surroundings, and when he does that, he's very damaging."