Wests Tigers playmaker Luke Brooks has fired a parting shot at club powerbrokers ahead of his final home game for the embattled NRL side. Brooks has been a mainstay at the Tigers for more than a decade, but made the decision earlier this season to knock back an extension at the club and sign with rivals, Manly, from 2024.
Unfortunately for Brooks, his 11-year stint at the club has coincided with a period of sustained mediocrity, with the Tigers not managing to qualify for the finals once in that time. Brooks has consistently found himself a scapegoat of the club's long-suffering fans, although the Tigers' record of churning through five permanent head coaches in that time has done little to help his cause.
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This week ushered in the latest coaching merry-go-round at the Tigers, with confirmation Tim Sheens will step down from his role as head coach at the end of the season and hand the reins to assistant coach Benji Marshall one year earlier than initially planned. Brooks argued Marshall would only be able effect positive change if everyone at the club was aligned and took a swipe at the Tigers' board for their 12-year finals drought.
Luke Brooks takes parting shot at Wests Tigers
Brooks also slammed the club's handling of his own contract situation, whereby he was given a deadline to sign an extension, while weighing up the offer from Manly. The crafty playmaker says his camp were left frustrated at being rushed into a decision over his future.
"When they did that it made my mind up," Brooks told reporters ahead of Saturday's match against the Dolphins. Asked what he thought the Tigers needed to change to be successful next season, Brooks said: "Everyone being on the same page and making decisions, and the right decisions, for the club to go forward.
"I don't know who makes the decisions here, it's hard to say. There's always something going on. I guess (after) 10 years here, I'm sort of used to it."
Brooks' swipe at his boyhood club comes amid a period of unprecedented failure, with the Tigers lurching towards their second successive wooden spoon. It was hoped bringing in the experience of veteran coach Sheens, coupled with the youthful exuberance of Marshall and fellow Tigers legend Robbie Farah, would transform the fortunes at the Tigers but that has failed to materialise.
Coaching merry-go-round continues at Tigers
Sheens was behind the sacking of former coach Michael Maguire after being brought in as the Tigers' head of football. He was then installed as head coach, with the Tigers eventually putting a succession plan in place for Marshall to take over as head coach in 2025 - a decision that has since been brought forward one year.
The club's tumultuous 2023 has also led to reports of a falling out between the Tigers' coaching staff and new head of recruitment, Scott Fulton. The former Manly recruitment head was brought to the Tigers this year to help re-shape the club's playing roster but has reportedly butted heads with Marshall about the type of players they need.
Despite the introduction of premiership winner Api Koroisau as club captain, the Tigers have slumped to 17th and are all set for their second wooden spoon in as many years. And in a bombshell twist on Wednesday, it came to light that Sheens will step down one year early to allow Marshal to step into the head coaching role.
Tigers chairman Lee Hagipantelis said on Wednesday that Sheens had taken the decision of his own volition. The Tigers chair added that Sheens' manager Chris Orr approached the club last week to discuss a possible restructuring, but denied suggestions the board had given the veteran coach the axe.
"It was following that outreach that these conversations were undertaken, all with Tim's engagement and blessing," Hagipantelis told AAP. "Tim has anointed Benji as ready to step up into the head coaching role. It's very amicable and professional as it should be. Suggestions, which I've read, about us terminating or knifing Tim are demeaning to all involved."
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