Jackson Hastings wants one thing to be clear about Luke Brooks.
In the middle of the sheds at CommBank Stadium — with members of the 2005 premiership-winning Wests Tigers team in the dressing room next door — Hastings steps in and spoke of about his halves partner, who kicked the winning field goal in the Tigers 23-22 win against South Sydney.
“If you actually go look at his [Brooks] numbers - which I’ve looked at - and you stack them up against the ‘best halves in the comp’, he is always up there,” he said.
“You don’t win Daily M Halfback of the Year for no reason. I will continue to defend him because I have seen how hard he works and I can see what he can deliver. I got the glory last week and everyone wanted to say how good was the field goal, but he was our best player and again tonight he was our best player.
“The bloke deserves a lot of credit. He has been our halfback for the last 10 years and been the club leader and he puts his hand up to play hooker for half an hour. I’m happy to be almost like a lamppost out there and give Brooksy the ball in space.”
Almost a year to the day Brooks was denied a runaway try in golden point to win the game against the Rabbitohs, the much maligned halfback-turn five-eighth (and occasional hooker) was in the right spot again to pounced on a loose Lachlan Ilias pass to race away 60-metres to score to give the Tigers back the lead in a see-sawing affair.
Brooks streaks away to take back the lead
And while it wasn’t the match-winner, Brooks had an encore - a clutch field goal in the final minute to give the Tigers back-to-back wins on the same ground in the space of six-days.
With the No.6 on his back, Brooks has reveled with the additional freedom of letting Hastings steer the ship around.
His perfectly timed cut-out pass delivered Ken Maumalo an important first-half try to get the Tigers back on track after Souths took the lead for the first time.
Hastings was full of praise for Brooks’ “mental toughness and resilience.”
The man himself reciprocated the praise for Hastings.
“He is the player that we needed — he has that "stuff you" attitude. I’m happy to be playing alongside him. He adds a lot to our team,” Brooks said.
“The most pleasing thing was backing up last week’s performance. We really showed what kind of side we are.
Luke Brooks the man of the moment
“I feel like the pressure has been off me the last couple of weeks due to the fact I’m wearing the six and Jacko gives me a lot of confidence too; he leads the team around well and allows me to come in when I want. Mentally it has helped me; I’ve woken up the last two games and been keen to get here.”