Luke Brooks
Luke Brooks continued to impress for his new NRL club Manly as they beat the Sydney Roosters. Image by Mark Evans/AAP PHOTOS
  • rugby league

Brooks shines as Sea Eagles hold on to beat Roosters

Scott Bailey March 17, 2024

Luke Brooks’ Manly resurgence has continued with the rejuvenated five-eighth starring in the Sea Eagles’ 21-14 NRL win over the Sydney Roosters.

On a day when Manly dominated ball and territory at Brookvale, Brooks had a hand in two Sea Eagles tries as they went 2-0 to start the season.

Playing with a new-found freedom after leaving the Wests Tigers, Brooks was one of Manly’s best after also impressing in their first-up win over South Sydney.

“He (Brooks) was great. He’s done a really good job the first few weeks,” Manly coach Anthony Seibold said. 

“He’ll only get better too. He’s made a really good start with the connection and cohesion with Chez (Daly Cherry-Evans) and Turbo (Tom Trbojevic).

“They’re the guys who lead us around. We don’t need Brooksy being that organiser, we just need him to bring his weapons.”

Daly Cherry-Evans
 Skipper Daly Cherry-Evans praised Luke Brooks’ encouraging performances in Manly’s halves. Image by Mark Evans/AAP PHOTOS 

Brooks did that on Sunday.

While the Roosters endured an error-riddled game and finished it without five-eighth Luke Keary due to a head knock, Brooks shone.

The 29-year-old Brooks put up the bomb for Manly’s first try, allowing Lachlan Croker to score when James Tedesco spilled the kick under heavy pressure from Trbojevic.

He also threw a quick catch-and-pass for a crucial Manly try after half time, taking their lead from 12-10 at the break to 18-10 and handing them control.

For the second game in a row he was able to dummy his way through a defensive line, and on another play scooped up a loose ball and would have scored if his foot hadn’t gone into touch.

Put simply, Brooks is playing with the freedom and confidence he was rarely able to find during his long stint at the struggling Tigers.

“I don’t know the previous Luke Brooks,” Cherry-Evans said. 

“So I don’t know what to compare him to other than what I’ve watched. But that situation itself(at the Tigers) was pretty hard to impress in. 

“For him to come here, he’s worked hard, he’s earned his teammate’s respect and his performances have been two really great games so far.”

Brooks was far from alone in impressing.

While Manly also had errors, they again proved they have attacking strikepower to threaten this season when all of their weapons are fit and healthy.

Just as he did in his team’s opening win over South Sydney in Las Vegas, Trbojevic went tryless but looked dangerous with almost every touch at fullback.

Tom Trbojevic
 Tom Trbojevic always looked threatening with ball in hand. Image by Mark Evans/AAP PHOTOS 

Haumole Olakau’atu was destructive on the right, busting six tackles for the match and was at one stage denied close to the line three times in one set.

Tolutau Koula was particularly damaging at left centre for the hosts, making an 80-metre break in the opening minutes and scoring a first-half try following a Keary error.

And while the Roosters threatened to get themselves back in the game late via an 80-metre effort in broken play from Dom Young, errors again cost them and Cherry-Evans kicked Manly clear.

“It was a bit disjointed there from us,” Roosters coach Trent Robinson said. 

“It felt like the left hand wasn’t speaking to the right hand at different times. 

“We couldn’t get any rhythm at any point during the game and that was a credit to the opposition.”