Tim Sheens blindsided by Wests Tigers move amid sad Luke Brooks reality

Amid the ecstasy of their breakthrough NRL win over Penrith, the Wests Tigers made a move that left coach Tim Sheens miffed.

Tim Sheens and Luke Brooks, pictured here at the Wests Tigers.
Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens was reportedly caught off-guard by the signing of recruiter Scott Fulton, which is sure to impact the future of Luke Brooks. Pictures: Getty Images

Amid the ecstasy of the Wests Tigers' drought-breaking NRL win over reigning premiers Penrith last weekend, club chairman Lee Hagipantelis pulled off a surprising move that has caught coach Tim Sheens off-guard. Highly sought after figure Scott Fulton was announced as the Tigers' new head of recruitment last week - to the shock of Sheens and top assistant Benji Marshall, neither of whom were consulted about the move.

While the Tigers securing Fulton has widely been seen as a positive move, the club and Hagipantelis in particular have been criticised for keeping their head coach in the dark. Another of Sheens' top assistants, recruiter Warren McDonnell, has reportedly also been left wondering what his role with the NRL club will be in the future.

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The son of rugby league Immortal Bob Fulton, Scott Fulton was a highly coveted signing who also courted interest from the likes of St George Illawarra and the Newcastle Knights also keen on his signature. However it was the Tigers who got the deal done, with Hagipantelis declaring the move was made 'in the best interests of the club'.

It remains to be seen exactly how responsibility will be shared, with Sheens reportedly left frustrated by the appointment happening without his knowledge. Discussing the move on NRL 360, Paul Kent said the arrival of Fulton was an indication that the club was looking to build differently to how it had in the past.

“The Tigers’ problem hasn’t been an inability to recruit people, they’ve just always paid too much,” Kent said. “(When you are running last) you have got to pay overs, but what you have got to do is start bringing them from that level up.

“And let’s go through the players if you want to start talking about that, the guys who have come through and on their second or third contract have left the club. Tedesco, Papenhuyzen, Addo-Carr, Mitch Moses. This is where your recruitment guy says under no circumstances do we let these guys go."

Of particular interest will be Luke Brooks' future with the Tigers, after the often maligned halfback turned in a matchwinning performance against Penrith. Frequently criticised thanks to his eye-popping contract reportedly worth more than $1 million a season, Brooks comes out of that deal at the end of this year - with the Tigers no certainty to bring him back.

Scott Fulton arrival poses Luke Brooks conundrum for Tigers

Whether or not Fulton opts to bring him back or let him go to a different club will only be known later this year, however Brent Read said Brooks' performance against Nathan Cleary was a reminder of what he is capable of producing. Despite this though, he said it may not have been enough to secure his future with the Tigers beyond this season.

“I’m really happy for Luke Brooks because it has been a really difficult time for him,” Read told NRL 360. “He has been the guy in the spotlight, the guy in the crosshairs so often and he was amazing on Saturday night.

“I’m not sure whether it is enough to get him another contract there because he is off-contract at the end of the year and they still haven’t made a call yet. It was a bit of a reminder of what he can do. I guess we haven’t seen enough of it, but it is a reminder.”

Luke Brooks busts through a tackle from a Penrith opponent.
Luke Brooks played a starring role in the Tigers' drought-breaking win over the Penrith Panthers. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Fellow panellist Braith Anasta also praised Brooks for the powerhouse performance, but agreed it may be too little, too late for the 28-year-old. Having also described the recruitment of Fulton without informing the coach as 'crazy', Anasta said the Tigers' long-term misfortune hadn't put Brooks in a position to truly develop his game.

“Let’s be honest, it was an amazing performance, but it is not enough for a contract,” Anasta said. “He can play. He has always had the talent and the ability.

"It is just that we haven’t seen it enough. Being in the side he has been in probably hasn’t helped. But he outplayed Cleary, the best half in the game. He was dominant.”

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