Newcastle could be set to finally land prized target Luke Brooks despite the halfback having another year to run on his Wests Tigers contract.
The Knights were chasing Brooks before the 2022 season following the departure of Mutchel Pearce to the Super League but a deal failed to eventuate.
However veteran journalist Phil Rothfield believes a deal is likely to be struck in time for the start of next season and he could partner Kalyn Ponga in the halves with the superstar fullback likely to make a switch to five-eighth.
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“I think he’s going,” Rothfield told Sky Racing’s Big Sports Breakfast on Monday.
“I know he’s got a year to go on his contract and I know it’s worth about $900,000 but the Newcastle Knights are absolutely desperate to sign him and they’re throwing everything at him.
“The reason being Kalyn Ponga will play five-eighth for the Knights next year but he can’t do it on his own, they need to do something about their spine.
“They don’t have a halfback and they’re trying to work out a deal with the Wests Tigers that suits all parties and I think it will happen. Tim Sheens is in the UK at the moment but I’m pretty sure Luke Brooks will be heading to Newcastle.”
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Rothfield suggested the Tigers could be willing to let Brooks go because they have Jackson Hastings as an option to partner Adam Doueihi in the halves.
“Jackson Hastings is specialist at halfback, that’s where he played in England and that’s where he played strong, I know he’s a lot bigger now and he’s played a bit of lock forward towards the end of the year but he is a specialist halfback,” Rothfield said.
“He could train the offseason to play specialist halfback, you’d have Doueihi at five-eighth.
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“I don’t think they’ve got too many problems in that area, the bottom line is the Wests Tigers being a club down the bottom of the ladder need to be getting the most supreme value out of their salary cap.
“If you’re going to be paying someone $900,000 a season you need that player turning up every week, you need him performing every week and you need him leading the club.
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“It hasn’t worked with Brooks over a long period of time at the Wests Tigers so I’m not surprised at all they’re now offering him a release to Newcastle.”