One of the last things Tim Sheens did before he was sacked by Wests Tigers a decade ago was convince a young Luke Brooks to commit to the club.
He never got the chance to work with him then, which is why Sheens is in no mood now to let him go to Newcastle.
Newcastle coach Adam O’Brien had the chance on Friday to shoot down speculation about Brooks joining the Knights for the 2023 season, but instead added to the intrigue when he said: “I’m not too sure … when the list is finalised, I’ll coach that list”.
Sheens, though, was unequivocal. “I want Luke here,” he told The Sun-Herald. “It’s not our intention to release him, and there’s been no request from Newcastle. It’s been talked and talked and talked about.
“He’s due to turn up here on November 14, and I’m looking forward to working with him. Benji [Marshall] and I are looking forward to getting our hands on him.
“Right at the moment, there’s been no movement from the Knights and we’re moving forward with him as our halfback.
Wests Tigers playmaker Luke Brooks.Credit:Getty
“He still has his legs, he has speed, he’s brave, and if you needed to find someone to replace him, you wouldn’t find that [an] easy task either.
“The last thing I did at the Tigers was to convince him, Mitchell Moses and James Tedesco to sign here. They were our next spine at the time. I never got the chance to work with Brooksy then. I’m looking forward to working with him now next year.”
Brooks is due to report for pre-season training on Monday week and is free to officially strike a deal elsewhere for 2024, now he is entering the final year of his Tigers contract.
The Knights were convinced they had secured Brooks for the start of last season. The fact the move never eventuated arguably left the Hunter club scrambling.
Tim Sheens officially started as head coach again last Wednesday.Credit:Getty Images
Sheens will not open negotiations with Brooks or Doueihi until the new year, even if it leaves them exposed to the advances of rivals.
The 72-year-old was relieved Doueihi pulled through the World Cup campaign uninjured after Lebanon’s campaign ended against Australia early Saturday. He will not resume training until the new year.
Sheens’ two-year tenure in charge started on Wednesday, alongside his 2025 successor Marshall.
While Sheens refused to discuss the pending arrival of English enforcer John Bateman – “I’ll only talk about the guys we’ve already got and signed” – he labelled Api Koroisau “the best advertisement for the club”, and someone who was already on the ground talking to prospective players.
Only the most rusted-on Tigers fan would dare to dream about a premiership in 2023. A finals berth will be the goal, but September football looks a more likely target the following year.
Sheens pointed out the club not once fielded a full-strength side last year, which included the trials. They lost nine games by 10 points or less, he said, which included eight games by eight points or fewer. Tommy Talau and Shawn Blore did not feature at all because of injury.
One player who did report for day one of pre-season training was Randwick rugby captain Ben Houston, a No.6 in rugby who “is big and rangy and a front-row proposition”, Sheens said.
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