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Why Luke Brooks would be my choice for Wests Tigers skipper

It is a little surprising there hasn’t been more discussion and indeed debate among Wests Tigers fans about the decision to appoint someone who has never played for the club as captain for the coming NRL season.

James Tamou, pictured at right, who comes to Wests from Penrith, is of course a very experienced player, so this is not about his captaincy credentials.

However his appointment kind of reflects where the Wests Tigers are at as a club in 2021.

What I mean by that is that a judgement must have been made along the way that nobody already at the club ticked the boxes necessary to be captain in 2021.

According to the club media release on Tamou’s appointment, the 32 year old prop forward will be part of the leadership group that includes Luke Brooks, Adam Doueihi, David Nofoaluma and Alex Twal.

To me, the obvious name here, the one that really stands out, is Luke Brooks.

If it was up to me, the halfback would be thrown the skipper’s armband, mainly because he kind of already does the job as a half, and secondly as a signal to other players that the club values highly and rewards players who stick by it.

And I would have thought it’s also vitally important a footy team captain is someone who has done the hard yards for them over a number of years.

In this case, someone who bleeds Wests Tigers, and to me that’s Brooksy, who is pictured below.

But he wasn’t even appointed vice captain so he could step up if Tamou is absent for whatever reason.

What also is of interest in all this is the role head coach Michael Maguire played in choosing a skipper for 2021.

We don’t really know, the media release did not say who made the Tamou decision, but as I’ve said before Maguire is the best thing going for Wests Tigers. if it was up to me I’d let him run the whole joint, the front office, back office, the whole kit and kaboodle.

“James’ influence on our club has been excellent from the moment he’s been here,” Maguire said of Tamou in the captaincy announcement media release.

“He has extremely strong support behind him from the playing group and the team has really resonated with him as the leader of our side,” the coach said.

Does it mean Maguire doesn’t think Brooks is up to the job? Well, we don’t know.

But does anyone think if Robbie Farah or Benji Marshall were still playing, the head coach would have agreed to hand the captaincy to a new recruit? Maybe if his name was Cameron Smith, but otherwise no, of course not.

It’s possible the Tamou decision could turn out to be a stroke of genius and he leads the team to the finals for the first time in 10 years. Fingers crossed.

But it’s still a worry that the powers to be at Wests Tigers could not find someone already in the team ready to assume the top leadership post. It could easily be interpreted as a sign there has been a planning deficit on the captaincy.

As a sport journalist and as a fan for more than four decades I can’t remember the last time an NRL team appointed as captain a new recruit.

Either way, I want to wish James Tamou and the rest of the Wests Tigers boys the best of luck in 2021.

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