TIGERS 34 DRAGONS 18
He's the heir apparent to Benji Marshall’s throne at the Wests Tigers, but Luke Brooks might still need to lean on the rugby union-bound superstar for a few words of advice on media management.
"Don’t really listen to what the media say," Marshall taunted Brooks as they swivelled out of Saturday’s post-match press conference.
The teenage whiz kid had only moments earlier innocently tried to downplay pre-game comparisons to Andrew Johns by using that very line.
An embarrassed Brooks tried to clarify his ignorance only extended to what was penned and spoken about him, but Benji was in a stirring mood.
Until it came to offering his more serious thoughts on the 18-year-old prodigy who stole the show in front of yesteryear’s heroes at the SCG.
"I thought Brooksy stood up and took control when he needed to," said Marshall, reverted to the centres in the Tigers’ 34-18 win. "He really had our forwards going where he wanted and he really played a controlled game.
"It’s exciting for the club, not only with Brooksy but a lot of other young guys coming through, I think our future is bright."
Granted second tier salary cap concessions to play Brooks and fellow teenage debutant Nathan Brown, the Tigers will be forced to whisk the pair straight back to the Holden Cup next week.
It might not dishearten coach Mick Potter too much, who at least got a glimpse into the club’s future after the Tigers snapped a six-game losing streak.
"My expectations were that he would go OK and I thought he probably exceeded that," Potter said. "It’s a good taste for him and I’m looking forward to next season for him.
"I think everyone jumped on board and helped him out and he’s a quality player. It’s just good to see everyone have a smile on their face and have a win. That’s what the competition is about - having wins - and we need more wins. There is light at the end of the tunnel."
Maybe not so much for the Dragons, who were still bristling at the NRL’s decision to allow the Tigers to breach the salary cap in order to play Brooks and Brown.
St George Illawarra coach Steve Price said Dragons boss Peter Doust would seek further answers from the NRL after a stinging statement was released by the club in the lead-up to the game.
"I clearly support Peter on how we went about it with the NRL this week," Price said. "The outcome was a bit disappointing, but we’ll take it up next week.
"We clearly got beat by a better team, but at the end of the day we’ll follow it up."
Their worst fears came true when Brooks scored a try of his own and directly laid on two others for fellow young guns Curtis Sironen and Tim Simona.
But you get the feeling all he wanted to do was strap on the boots alongside Marshall just once before the Tigers’ departing hero heads for the Auckland Blues.
"It was a real honour to play at the SCG and to play with boys like Benji who I have looked up to coming up through the grades, who were my heroes when I was younger," he said. "It was massive to get a game with him."