NRL news 2022, Luke Brooks, Wests Tigers vs Parramatta Eels, result, video, Jackson Hastings

He might be the most publicly bashed player in professional rugby league.

But the smile on Luke Brooks‘ face following an epic Easter Monday win should be bottled and sold in health stores.

The NRL is an unforgiving and cruel mistress, and Brooks certainly knows the pain of copping it from all and sundry when things aren’t going right.

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They haven’t been going right for 10 years, mostly. A career that began so promisingly has floundered and Brooks has never played in an NRL finals game, or earned a serious representative jumper.

Rugby league legend Andrew Johns feared Monday’s game against Parramatta could be the beginning of the end for Brooks the Tiger.

“I just don’t know where it goes now from here for Luke Brooks,” Johns told Nine’s Sunday Footy Show, in relation to the Tigers playmaker being shafted from his No.7 jumper.

Stream the NRL premiership 2022 live and free on 9Now.

By half-time commentators were calling the switch “a masterstroke” from coach Michael Maguire – himself the subject of intense scrutiny, not only in recent weeks but constantly over the last 12 months.

Maguire took a punt and moved Brooks to five-eighth, handing club newcomer Jackson Hastings the reins and the No.7 jumper. Brooks and Hastings were two of the best players on the field, the latter slotting a long-range field goal to ice the 21-20 victory over western rivals Parramatta.

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It was a win for the ages. An upset without question – the Tigers were paying more than $8 with bookmakers before kick-off. It had Eels 13+ written all over it.

When it was all over and the result was in the bag, Brooks was asked if he would give Maguire a hug when the pair made it into the sheds.

“I don’t know… we’ll have a beer,” he replied, the smile across his face suggesting more than one celebratory drink will be consumed.

“I guess it just shows that when we’re at our best, we can match it with anyone.”

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Maguire confirmed the halves switch will continue for at least another week, given the success of the experiment already.

Hastings – the man who iced the victory with his right boot – made sure to keep the limelight squarely on his ever-scrutinised teammate.

“Luke Brooks… get off his back for a week. What a performance,” Hastings told Fox League.

Hastings’ directive was aimed squarely at the NRL media, but in fairness to the scribes any player earning $950,000 is going to wear the brunt of a club’s fortunes.

Brooks knows all too well what the heat feels like in the hard times.

For a moment on Monday night, the rugby league world got to see the joy of the man when something goes right.

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