Parramatta Eels halfback Mitchell Moses has branded the persistent criticism of former Wests Tigers teammate Luke Brooks “unwarranted” and “stupid”.
Despite being named Dally M Halfback of the Year in 2018, Brooks has struggled to silence his doubters as the Tigers enter their 10th season without reaching a finals series.
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And with the club reeling at 13th on the NRL ladder, the 26-year-old has inevitably copped a fair portion of the blame.
Some rugby league pundits even called for Brooks to leave the club and make a fresh start elsewhere — a suggestion he quickly rubbished.
However, Brooks was a standout performer during Friday evening’s 36-18 victory over the Newcastle Knights in Magic Round, contributing a linebreak, try, try assist and a game-high 183 running metres.
Tigers coach Michael Maguire told reporters after the win: “I can’t believe how much one player can get hammered for what goes on in a team — it’s just beyond me.”
Luke Brooks of the Tigers.Source:Getty Images
Speaking ahead of Sunday afternoon’s blockbuster Manly vs Parramatta game, which can be seen on sports streaming service Kayo, Moses condemned the relentless media criticism which has been directed at Brooks this season.
“It was really unwarranted, to be honest,” Moses said.
“You’ve got to expect the criticism I guess, when you play halfback in a first-grade side … when your team’s losing, all the criticism goes to you.
“But I think it was really unwarranted. It’s a team effort, and for all the pressure to go on him was pretty stupid.
“The footy he played on the weekend was outstanding — he was probably one of the best players over the weekend. He controlled the game and took the line on offer.
“Hopefully he continues with that form going into the rest of the season.”
Mitchell Moses of the Eels.Source:Getty Images
Magic Round was plagued by a plethora of sin bins and send offs after the NRL Commission issued the game’s referees with a stern directive to clamp down on foul play.
There were 14 sin bins and three send offs during the eight matches at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium, leaving many fans and commentators fuming.
Moses is hopeful there isn’t as much carnage this weekend when his Eels take on the high-flying Sea Eagles, who have bounced after a horror start to the season thanks to the incredible form of fullback Tom Trbojevic.
“I think some of (the referees) were pressured into sending some players off,” Moses said.
“Hopefully the refs don’t feel pressured into having to do these things. We play a contact sport. We work so hard during the week to play 80 minutes of footy.
“Some things are going to go wrong in games, and no one intentionally means to head-high anyone or knock anyone out.
“You can tell from the ones that are accidental and the ones that are careless — you can tell the difference, so hopefully the refs aren’t pressured into getting the calls wrong.”
Jakob Arthur of the Eels celebrates with his mates.Source:Supplied
Moses paired in the halves with Parramatta young gun Jakob Arthur for the first time on Sunday afternoon, and the teenager proved he was more than capable of excelling in the NRL.
The 19-year-old contributed a linebreak, a try assist and a try during the 34-18 victory over the Warriors, his maiden four-pointer prompting his father — Eels coach Brad Arthur — to celebrate jubilantly from the viewing box.
Moses cherished the opportunity to play alongside Arthur, who has been a regular attendee at Eels training sessions for several years.
“To be able to play in the halves with him in first grade is something special,” Moses said.
“I was probably a bit more nervous than him before the game than he was, so he was calming me down a bit more.
“He was outstanding — I think he did more than his job. He nailed some big moments in the game and pretty much got us home.
“We’ve got full faith in him that he’ll keep doing that.”
Mitchell Moses of the Eels celebrates a Clint Gutherson.Source:Getty Images
Moses is off-contract at the end of the year, and Parramatta fans are anxiously awaiting confirmation of a contract extension.
But the 26-year-old is adamant he is “pretty close” to agreeing on new terms with the club, an announcement to be expected in the coming couple of weeks.
“I really want to stay at the club,” Moses said. “I’ve expressed that to the club, so my management and them are pretty much in the final stages of working something out.
“We’ve got a pretty close team here, and we’ve got a team that’s playing good footy at the moment … I really want to be a part of what we’re doing here at Parramatta.”
Parramatta will face the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles at Bankwest Stadium on Sunday afternoon, with kick-off scheduled for 4.05pm AEST.
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