Luke Brooks future, Wests Tigers contract, season-ending injury, $1 million contract, Newcastle Knights, Wayne Bennett, Dolphins signings, news

Luke Brooks Tigers’ future has been placed firmly under the microscope after suffering a season-ending calf injury — with many believing he has played his last game for the merger club.

The 27-year-old’s contract is reportedly set to rise to over $1 million for the 2023 season, and earlier this year he admitted he will explore his options and potentially leave Tigertown.

“I think a lot of the time I haven’t put myself first with these decisions. When the time comes I’m going to sit down and maybe be a bit selfish and do what’s best for me,” Brooks said.

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Rugby league legend Cameron Smith believes Brooks has pulled on a Tigers jersey for the last time.

“I don’t think so, if you listen to Luke Brooks and the way he has been talking over the last month, he may be looking to move from the Wests Tigers,” Smith said on WWOS.

“I don’t know which club he will end up at, but just from the way he has been talking and saying he will make the right decision for himself.

“I think it may have been the last time we’ve seen Luke play for the Wests Tigers.”

Blues coach Brad Fittler agreed with Smith, making it clear it would be best for both parties if Brooks was allowed to leave.

“I don’t think so, if you listen to Luke Brooks and the way he has been talking over the last month, he may be looking to move from the Wests Tigers,” Fittler said.

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“I don’t know which club he will end up at, but just from the way he has been talking and saying he will make the right decision for himself.

“I think it may have been the last time we’ve seen Luke play for the Wests Tigers.”

Now, Brooks has to make the biggest decision of his 10-year 189-game career — what team will he play for next?

A number of destinations have been shipped, with one persistent rumor cropping up when Luke Brooks’ name is mentioned.

Prior to the 2022 season, the Knights were confident they would secure Brooks’ signature to replace outgoing veteran Mitchell Pearce.

But that move never eventuated, and Brooks went on to deny ever requesting a release from his contract to make the switch to the Hunter.

According to The Daily Telegraphthe Knights remain interested in signing a star halfback, but his salary is the major sticking point.

Tim Sheens’ Tigers will have to contribute a hefty amount of his salary in order to get a deal over the line, but with Adam O’Brien’s men struggling — they could be desperate.

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The Daily Telegraph’s David Riccio believes the Tigers would have to pay around half his annual salary for a deal to get over the line.

“He’s on a huge salary, it’s close to $1 million,” Riccio said on LATE.

“They’d need to offset that, they would need to contribute to any deal that would happen at the Newcastle Knights.

“It would have to be significant, potentially half of that, why would they want that sitting on their cap without that player at the club without a direct replacement.”

Riccio also explained the merger club are worried about the potential embarrassment if Brooks makes the switch to the Hunter and returns to the form which saw him win Dally M Halfback of the Year in 2018.

“Also, don’t discount the embarrassment if Luke Brooks does kick on at the Newcastle Knights,” Riccio said.

“Think about that for a second, if he goes to the Knights and finds the form that saw him named Dally M halfback just a few years ago.

“Imagine how that looks on the Wests Tigers.”

Newcastle signed Adam Clune to partner Jake Clifford in a new-look spine to start the 2022 season, but the pairing failed to deliver.

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Anthony Milford’s recruitment has proven fruitful, but the former million-dollar man will now make the switch to the Dolphins for their inaugural NRL season.

Meanwhile, Wayne Bennett’s Dolphins could be another destination for Brooks.

The NRL super coach has so far struggled to lure elite talent to the 17th franchise, having signed a number of solid players — without landing the big fish he has been after.

Bennett failed in his attempts to sign marquee players like Harry Grant, Kalyn Ponga and Jahrome Hughes and could now turn his attention to the Tigers fall guy.

According to Fox League’s James Hooper, Bennett has been in discussions about signing Brooks, with a deal hanging on Anthony Milford’s future.

Now that Milford has signed with the Dolphins, Brooks move seems unlikely — but with his only halves options being Isaiya Katoa and Sean O’Sullivan, Bennett could still pull the trigger.

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While a move away from the Tigers looks to be the best option to get the best out of Brooks, not everyone thinks he will make a switch for the 2023 season.

David Riccio believes one major factor could see Brooks remain at Concord — Benji Marshall.

The Tigers have signed Tim Sheens as head coach for 2023, flanked by assistants Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah.

Riccio explained Brooks could be handed one last “roll of the dice”.

“I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Brooks at the Tigers though,” Riccio said.

“I say it because of the Benji Marshall factor.

“Talking to Benji and his relationship with Brooks, I just take it Brooks might have one more roll of the dice at trying to succeed at the Wests Tigers under Tim Sheens and Marshall.”

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