Leeds target Luke Brooks rejects new Wests Tigers offer; Mitchell Pearce in fresh NRL links

James Gordon

Luke Brooks has rejected a new deal to stay at Wests Tigers and looks set to leave the club at the end of the season.

Brooks, 28, has previously been linked with Leeds but seems more likely to stay in the NRL, and will now test himself on the open market.

The one-club half-back has made more than 200 appearances in the NRL for Wests, and he informed the club of his desire to leave over the weekend according to reports.

In his 11 seasons with the Tigers, they have never reached the play-offs, giving him the rather unwanted honour of playing the most NRL games without ever appearing in a finals series.

The deal on the table from the Tigers is believed to be worth around £300,000 a season, which would surely be beyond Super League clubs, even with the extension to the marquee player rules.

From next season, Super League clubs are able to have three marquee players, as long as at least one is home-grown. That means Brooks would take up £150,000 on the salary cap if signed by a Super League club, but whether clubs could stump up enough of an attractive package beyond that to lure him to Europe remains to be seen.

North Queensland Cowboys and Canberra Raiders are two of the NRL clubs tipped to be showing an interest in Brooks. Manly and Newcastle have also been suggested, those all four clubs are playing down any reports.

Back in April, Australian commentator Andrew Voss suggested that Brooks should go to St Helens to replace Lewis Dodd as part of a four-way half-back swap, that would see Dodd end up at Sydney Roosters.

Could Mitchell Pearce be set for an NRL swansong?

It now seems that the Roosters could turn to Mitchell Pearce, currently plying his trade in Super League with Catalans, as reported by Fox Sports.

Pearce has made 30 appearances for the Dragons since arriving ahead of the 2022 campaign, as a replacement for James Maloney.

He has already played more than 300 games in the NRL and is being linked with a return to the Roosters, who he left at the end of 2017 to join Newcastle Knights.

Now 34, Pearce was linked with Wests Tigers as a possible replacement for Luke Brooks and even had his name mentioned as an unlikely replacement for Nathan Cleary in New South Wales’ State of Origin side.

Although he’s under contract in France for 2024, it is believed that Catalans wouldn’t stand in his way if he wanted to explore a return to the NRL.

If he does make a return to the Roosters, it seems he is being lined up as a bench utility rather than as a starting half-back.

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