Sea Eagles fans better start organising their “Brooksvale” banners.
Manly coach Anthony Seibold has spoken all pre-season about how he doesn’t want new recruit Luke Brooks to be the main man in a team stacked with attacking stars.
But for 40 minutes on a cloudy afternoon in Gosford, the former Wests Tigers halfback had his fingerprints on everything as Manly thumped a South Sydney side predominantly made up of reserve graders 68-6.
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The man who never played finals footy during his 11 seasons with the Tigers will comfortably end that drought based on what we saw in a trial game that wasn’t officially part of the NRL’s pre-season challenge.
The Sea Eagles were up 24-6 at halftime with Brooks setting up three tries before he was given an early mark.
It took just a few minutes for the five-eighth to weave his magic when he toed through a loose ball for Manly’s first try, while he combined well with his teammates on the left edge to set up the first of Ben Trbojevic’s three first-half tries.
He saved the best for last with a peach of a short ball for his back-rower to stroll over on the stroke of halftime, with Brooks only set to get better with Daly Cherry-Evans, Tom Trbojevic and Manly’s other big names back in the side.
But there may also be a few headaches for Seibold going forward after controversial backrower Josh Schuster may have a battle on his hands.
The youngest Trbojevic brother Ben had a brilliant performance that may have Seibold think twice when he names his squad for Las Vegas.
It’s been a frustrating few weeks for Schuster who has battled chickenpox, a broken finger and a calf injury, and he now faces stiff competition from the man who just inked a new deal to stay with his brothers.
Trbojevic has long been overshadowed by rep stars Tom and Jake, but he has had a huge pre-season and it’s paid off with the back-rower crossing three times in the first half.
The lanky youngster has already struck up a good combination with Brooks and is one good trial away from winning a starting spot, while Jamie Humphreys has put his hand up for the bench utility spot after he scored twice in the second half.
On the other side of the field, it was a tough slog for Souths who only brought a couple of their top 30 players to the Central Coast, although it will be a memorable day for Adam Christensen who scored their only try in the second minute.
While he had a moment to celebrate on the left, centre partner Taane Milne missed the chance to push his case for the NRL side as the Rabbitohs look to replace the injured Campbell Graham.
Milne is very experienced but Isaiah Tass is the man most likely to start the season in the backline.
The Fijian international played right centre, wing and in the back row on Sunday but barely touched the ball as Manly’s left edge scored a stack of points down his side of the field.
The Rabbitohs will look a whole lot different on Saturday when some of their big runs return for the Charity Shield, but they’ll be without Cody Walker who could miss the trip to Vegas with a calf strain.
Originally published as Luke Brooks’ Sea Eagles debut stuns in trial Rabbitohs thrashing