NRL360 co-host Paul Kent believes the Tigers backflipped on the decision to axe marquee playmaker Luke Brooks after the news was leaked.
Fox League’s James Hooper revealed on June 20 the 27-year-old was in the firing line, but in a move labelled “soft” by The Daily Telegraph’s Paul Crawley, named him to start in Round 16.
Kent went on to explain the “skittish” frame of mind the merger club is in as they attempt to resurrect their 2022 campaign.
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“They made a mistake getting it out last weekend when they still had a full week to go before teams needed to be announced, the fact is, I think the club in response to it coming out last week decided they couldn’t do it which shows you how skittish they are about what’s happening,” Kent said.
“So you think that he was going to be dropped, but because it was leaked early they have pulled the handbrake on it, and thought it is a bad look from the outside in,” NRL360 host Braith Anasta said.
“Yes,” Kent said.
“They have taken the soft option here, the fact of the matter is he is in his 10th season at the Tigers, he hasn’t made the finals, if you watch that last performance, he was pretty average,” Crawley said.
Meanwhile, in his second game returning from an ACL injury, star player Adam Doueihi has been named on the bench.
It is common practice for players to return from a long-term injury via the bench, but Crawley explained rival clubs would likely rush elite talent straight into the starting side if fit.
“They have a bloke called Adam Doueihi, who is sitting on the sidelines, if Adam Doueihi is fit to play and he has been their best player in the last few years, do you think South Sydney would return Cody Walker or Latrell Mitchell of the bench,” Crawley said.
“If he is your best player, you start him.”
“Do you think they are going to risk him, you have got to ease him back after a knee reco, this week he will play 50-60 minutes, next week 80, we see it all the time,” The Daily Telegraph’s David Riccio said.
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Doueihi is off-contract at the end of the next year and if he isn’t able to break into the Tigers side, he won’t hesitate to look elsewhere and Riccio made a bold claim regarding the future of the club’s star players.
“Doueihi is off-contract at the end of next year, he came out last week and said that he is in no rush,” Crawley said.
“Of course he is in no rush, he is free to do a deal with another club come November, but if the Tigers are playing you off the bench, it would have to eat at you.”
“I think it is Brooks or Hastings at the end of this year, huge decision for the club, new coach and I can’t see how all three players are at that club next year,” Riccio said.
Meanwhile, speaking to the media, Brooks’ halves partner Jackson Hastings labelled his teammate the ‘scapegoat’ for the Tigers problems.
The NRL360 panel weren’t buying it, urging Hastings to take a look in the mirror.
“With that Jackson stuff, yeah he has to support Luke, but also you have to look yourself and your teammates in the mirror and in the eyes, they have had a coach sacked, they are down the bottom of the ladder, and he is saying that he is a scapegoat,” Anasta said.
“He is not a scapegoat, he is not playing well, the team is not playing well, stop making excuses, because excuses wear very thin.
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“You have got to look at your teammate and think how are we going to fix this.”
“It is not just Luke Brooks, who is a terrific bloke and all that narrative, he has been there 10 years and hasn’t even got them to eighth spot,” Kent said.
“There has got to be some accountability and real purpose out of this mob because they have got to turn things around.”