Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire may shift Luke Brooks again

They steered the Tigers to an upset win but Luke Brooks and Jackson Hastings might not play 80 minutes together in the halves on Saturday.

Michael Maguire has refused to confirm Luke Brooks and Jackson Hastings will be the Wests Tigers’ full-time halves pairing going forward, despite their dominant performance in Monday’s shock win over the Parramatta Eels.

Playing their first game together since round two, Brooks and Hastings steered the previously winless Tigers to the biggest upset victory of the season.

Halfback Hastings took on game management duties, allowing Brooks to run the footy at five-eighth with devastating effect.

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But when an ankle injury forced hooker Jake Simpkin from the field in the second half, Brooks took on dummy-half duties and Jock Madden slotted into five-eighth.

Brooks has spent time training at hooker in recent weeks and as they prepared for their game with the Eels, the Tigers told Brooks he could be required to shift there midgame, even if Simpkin remained fit.

Maguire hasn’t ruled out the possibility Brooks could again play hooker part-time against the Rabbitohs on Saturday, despite how comfortable he looked at five-eighth on Easter Monday.

“You’ll have to wait and see,” Maguire said when asked about his plans for Brooks.

Simpkin has been named to start at hooker against the Rabbitohs but Maguire said he could be a late omission from the side.

“He’s responded pretty well so we just have to go through training and work out whether or not he makes it through,” Maguire said.

Jacob Liddle has been named on an extended bench for the Rabbitohs clash and looms as the likeliest option to replace Simpkin if he fails his fitness test.

Hastings looks certain to play 80 minutes at halfback in his second game back from suspension.

Maguire wasn’t surprised Hastings took control against Parramatta and booted a late field goal to seal the Tigers’ win.

“I knew he’d do that,” Maguire said. “I think if you go back to round one, unfortunately we just haven’t had ‘Jacko’ on the field for those following games.

“For ‘Jacko’, it’s about replicating that now and doing it over and over. It’s something that he works very hard at.”

Maguire said he was pleased the Tigers finally had the monkey off their back but insisted his side couldn’t become sidetracked by its win.

“It was great to see the smiles but we’ve definitely moved onto the next game now. It’s a big game,” he said.

“We’re playing a top team and we know the opposition are very capable. I’m about enjoying the moment and then you’ve got to move forward.

“We’ve all been around long enough to know that if you stay in that, you’re not moving forward. We’re definitely focused on what we need to do.”

Originally published as ‘Wait and see’: Wests Tigers coy on halves combination despite upset win

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