Instead of basking in a selection masterstroke, Michael Maguire deflected praise to Luke Brooks after the No.7 answered what the coach believed was unprecedented criticism to inspire Wests Tigers' 36-18 NRL win over Newcastle on Friday night.
Tigers mentor Maguire was under the pump ahead of the NRL Magic Round opener at Suncorp Stadium after rolling the dice and moving form five-eighth Adam Doueihi to the centres and slotting Moses Mbye into the halves with the much maligned Brooks in a desperate search for just their third win of 2021.
But Tigers fans who were left scratching their heads and then shaking their fists over the gamble soon changed their tune as Doueihi and Mbye tore the Knights apart as the joint venture led 18-0 after 14 minutes and 24-4 by half-time on their way to a rare victory.
However, there was no "I told you so" from Maguire post-match.
The Tigers coach instead dipped his hat to Brooks after he responded to his own critics with a sparkling game.
Match: Wests Tigers v Knights
Round 10 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
The livewire playmaker was in everything as he scored a fifth-minute try, set up another, had one line break and three tackle busts while running 183 metres and kicking for 267 metres.
While Maguire had been feeling the heat, he reckoned he had seen nothing in his 12-season senior coaching career like the flak copped by Brooks of late.
"Luke was great, I hope people realise that," Maguire said.
"I can't believe how much one player can get hammered for what goes on in a team, it is just beyond me.
Doueihi gets a double as Hoy spills it at the back
"To be honest it is crazy that people continually think like that about certain people.
"It is pretty relentless but he handles it well.
"But one thing to Brooksy's credit is that he goes out and performs like that.
"When we back it up again we get to change what people say."
Man of the moment Doueihi admitted he had been impressed by Brooks' ability to ignore the outside noise.
"We haven't been getting the results that we wanted. We know it comes down to the spine," Doueihi said.
"I guess Brooksy cops most of it because he has been here the longest.
"I don't think it is fair on him. It is more on the team but Brooksy doesn't look into that too much.
"I am a bit different, more of an angry player but he has a calm head."
Brooks and Wests Tigers get the magic flowing
Doueihi bagged a try-scoring double and set up another along with three tackle breaks while Mbye was also in everything with a try assist and a line-break assist to set up the win.
The Knights desperately missed the firepower of Kalyn Ponga (groin), stumbling to their third loss in four games and an overall 4-6 record as the injured Queensland star's replacement Tex Hoy had a shocker.
Hoy's mix-up with teammate Kurt Mann gifted James Tamou a first-half try before he was sin-binned in the 25th minute for repeated ruck infringements, a recurring sight on Friday night.
Nofoaluma continues early dominance for Wests Tigers
He capped his nightmare evening by spilling a Brooks kick before the ball sat up nicely for Doueihi to seal his second four-pointer in the 52nd minute.
Wests Tigers clearly enjoy Magic Round, scoring five tries in the first 18 minutes on their way to thumping Penrith 30-4 in the last edition held in 2019 in Brisbane.
However, only the most die-hard Tigers supporters would have predicted a repeat of those fireworks after the joint venture had lost five of their past six games.
They had also amassed the worst defensive record after nine rounds in the club’s history, conceding 262 points - an average of 29.1 per game.
Talau tip-toes down the sideline
Through all the ups and downs of the opening nine rounds, Doueihi has been a shining light, and Maguire was happy to expand on the reasoning behind shifting him to the centres.
"Adam is a very good five-eighth but I see a major strength in Adam is his running game," Maguire said.
"I thought if I could bring Moses in closer and be that deliverer of the ball, with Adam being such a strong runner, that was the reason behind the change.
"Adam was professional about the change. There was plenty of external noise but he made sure he just did his job for the team and that's what you want."
Asked if he feared his spinal adjustment would backfire, Maguire said: "That's part of my job - to make decisions.
"I believe that was the right one and I believe the players bought into it as well.
"There has been a lot thrown at us at certain times the last couple of weeks and deservedly so I guess, but it is nice to see a happy change room.
"But it is about consistency now."