Wests Tigers halfback Luke Brooks has been ruled out of Monday night’s NRL clash with Parramatta due to a shoulder injury.
Brooks was hurt in last week’s loss to Penrith and his place will be taken by Josh Drinkwater, who will make his club debut at ANZ Stadium.
“(Brooks) made a tackle just after halftime, and he struggled through the game and finished the game, but it’s been sore all week,” said coach Jason Taylor on Sunday.
“He was a chance. It wasn’t until this morning that he was finally ruled out. Provided that the NRL give us the all clear, Josh Drinkwater will make his first grade debut for us. That’s really exciting for Josh.”
Drinkwater hasn’t played in the NRL since kicking a field goal for St George-Illawarra in the final game of the 2013 season.
Taylor said his promotion was a reward for patiently biding his time in reserve grade.
“He’s done a great job all season getting himself ready week after week, playing NSW Cup and knowing that, if there was an injury in the halves, that he was a man to take that role,” he said.
“And he’s ready to do that.”
Brooks will likely return to the side after next week’s bye.”
“He got close today,” Taylor said.
“He was improving every day, there’s just a little bit of nerve damage that hasn’t come back 100 per cent. He got close, but not close enough.”
Meanwhile, Eels hooker Isaac De Gois could be a late inclusion for Monday night’s clash, one month before his expected return from a cheekbone injury.
The Eels are in the midst of a hooking crisis with first-choice rake Nathan Peats sidelined with a recurring knee issue and third-string Kaysa Pritchard out for the year with another torn pec.
Eels coach Brad Arthur was forced to play part-time hooker Cody Nelson in the No. 9 jumper in last week’s upset of Melbourne, but could get a boost for Monday night’s clash with the return of De Gois.
“He’ll have a bit of a fitness test today. His injury is quite severe, so we’re not going to rush him through,” Arthur said.
RECENT TIGERS-EELS MEETINGS
* Since 2009, the Tigers have won nine of 12 matches against the Eels, including six of the past seven
* The Tigers have kicked a field goal in seven of those nine wins
* The Tigers have won just two of 11 Monday night games since 2012
* The Eels have won three of their past four Monday night fixtures. They should be four from four but bombed a 24-point lead against the Cowboys in Round 13
* The Eels have lost all three previous matches at the venue in 2015 and have won just one of their past 19 games there.