Absence of recognised hooker won't halt finals charge

It's been a bit of a merry-go-round in the hooking department at the Wests Tigers lately but Luke Brooks and Elijah Taylor seem at ease with the situation.

While Tigers fans might be cursing the bad luck haunting the No.9 role – Robbie Farah fracturing a leg bone (round 21) and then Jacob Liddle ripping all his knee ligaments (round 22) – Brooks and Taylor are pretty calm and collected about it all.

"It does disrupt me a little as each dummy-half is a little bit different," Brooks told NRL.com.

"You do sort of have to adjust the way you play slightly. But it's not just me; it's the whole team. But I think we proved on the weekend we can get a good little combination going in there."

With Farah and Liddle gone, coach Michael Maguire initially named Josh Reynolds at No.9 only to change that to utility Ryan Matterson the day before kick-off against the Knights at Campbelltown last Saturday.

Matterson never played at dummy-half on match day, leaving most of the duties to five-eighth Benji Marshall. Reynolds came on in the 30th minute and hooked for a while before Taylor had a stint.

Through all that virtual musical chairs, Wests Tigers posted eight tries in a 46-4 rout.

"Obviously Josh hasn't played too much footy so we brought him off the bench. He did very well and will be better for that run so we'll see how he goes this week," Brooks said.

Maguire again named Reynolds in the No.9 position for the Dragons on Sunday but Taylor has a sneaking suspicion he and Marshall may be popping in and out as well.

"I prepare for it – prepare for any position really – and although hooker is a very tough position to play, I know I can do it," Taylor said.

"The passing is crucial, so I keep practising that a lot, but I leave all the ball-playing up to the halves.

"I just need to get them the ball if they're calling for it, or give it cleanly to the forwards. I'll cop a spray from someone if I don't get the ball on target.

"I've played hooker a lot during my career so it's wherever Madge [Maguire] wants me."

Granted it's a vital position and the Tigers have lost two top exponents at a vital time of the year, but how does having three hookers in one game work?

"One thing about Madge is that he's very thorough in his preparation, very thorough in what he wants each of us to do. He tells us every Wednesday of the different positions we might have to play," Taylor said.

"He's the most thorough coach I've played under. It's why he's been so successful. I'll play where he wants me whether it's back row, lock, hooker or reserve grade.

"Most of career has been filling in here and there, fixing an edge, or up the middle. It's something I don't mind doing."

The Dragons at the SCG on Sunday and then the Sharks at Leichhardt wraps up the club competition for the ninth-placed Tigers, currently sitting one win outside the eight.

Brooks made his debut at the SCG in 2013, coincidently against the Dragons. He's hoping the score-line of six years ago – Tigers 34-18 – might repeat itself.

"We know the importance of the win," Brooks said.

"We obviously need both wins but we're focusing just on the Dragons first. I think a lot of people think we can't make it but we're confident in ourselves."