Another defeat followed by another use of the coach’s axe – Wests Tigers head coach Michael Maguire has dropped a bombshell by benching halfback Luke Brooks for Friday night’s clash with Brisbane Broncos at Leichhardt Oval.
After going down 18-10 to South Sydney in round nine, Maguire has made several changes for this week, headlined by the inclusion of Benji Marshall and Billy Walters in the halves.
Marshall had been on the outer for three weeks, until he was brought in for the last 30 minutes against Souths.
His presence sparked the side out of its lethargy and back in the game after scoring two tries.
It will be Billy Walters’ first game in the starting line up this season.
Brooks had his usual game of some good moments, some poor – and a few missed tackles to boot.
The coach, who is determined to send a simple message to his players – perform or perish – has selected Marshall in the starting line up for the Broncos clash, ostensibly to replace the suspended Josh Reynolds.
Brooks on the other hand find himself on the bench for the first time in years, with his place taken by the forgotten man at the West Tigers, last year’s hero at hooker, Billy Walters.
Who knows, Maguire may be hinting that Walters at half and that other sensation, hooker Harry Grant, may soon be wearing Maroon jumpers in those positions.
Either way it will be interesting to see how the spine performs against the Broncos after looking jaded and ineffective against Souths.
In other selection highlights, Russell Packer is one of the starting props, while Chris Lawrence, pictured at right, retains his spot at centre with Joey Leilua suspended until round 13.
Tommy Talau returns from a hamstring complaint to start on the wing, and last week’s debutant Reece Hoffman drops back to the reserves alongside Oliver Clark, Michael Chee Kam and rookie forward Shawn Blore.
Sam McIntyre also returns on the bench after sitting out last week due to concussion protocols.
The other new face on the bench is experienced forward Chris McQueen, who is set for his first game of the 2020 season after being included on the bench.
WESTS TIGERS TEAM ROUND 10:
1. Adam Doueihi
2. David Nofoaluma
3. Chris Lawrence
4. Moses Mbye (captain)
5. Tommy Talau
6. Billy Walters
7. Benji Marshall (captain)
8. Josh Aloiai
9. Harry Grant
10. Russell Packer
11. Luke Garner
12. Luciano Leilua
13. Matt Eisenhuth
14. Sam McIntyre
15. Thomas Mikaele
16. Luke Brooks
17. Chris McQueen