Luke Brooks admits it would be strange playing against the man who showed him the ropes at Wests Tigers, but says Benji Marshall’s mooted return to the NRL would be good for the game.
The former Kiwi Test skipper has instructed his manager to open talks with rival clubs after requesting an immediate release from his Super Rugby contract with the Blues.
Marshall has failed to make an impression in limited opportunities for the Auckland-based outfit since his move from the Tigers at the end of last season.
At the time, the Tigers’ 2005 grand final hero insisted he would never play against the joint-venture if he made a comeback to rugby league.
But the Tigers on Monday said they’d “moved on” and ruled out re-signing the club great.
Brooks has been a revelation this season, stepping up in Marshall’s absence and on Monday reaffirmed his status one of the game’s most talented youngsters with an inspirational performance in his side’s 21-18 win over Parramatta.
The halfback grew up idolising Marshall and was in the crowd to witness his magic flick pass to Pat Richards during the Tigers’ fairytale grand final win nine years ago.
“He gave me some good advice last year and he helped me out with a few things on and off the field,” the 19-year-old said on Tuesday.
“I was at the game (in 2005) – I was a Tigers fan growing up. He was a big idol of mine.
“It would be pretty weird playing against him … but we’ll just have to wait and see.
“It’s good for the game if he comes back, but I haven’t really heard much about that.”
Brooks has been the centre of attention over the last 24 hours after he was accused of diving by Parramatta coach Brad Arthur.
Arthur was unhappy after Will Hopoate’s second-half effort was awarded by on-field official Matt Cecchin, only to be overturned on review for obstruction by the video referee.
But Brooks said the “right call was made” and defended his actions.
“I don’t think it was a dive,” the teenager said.
“It’s not in my game to dive, but he’s entitled to his opinion.
“I got taken out and I couldn’t get across, so I think I was obstructed.”