Named as the 2014 Dally M Rookie of the Year at Monday's ceremony, Wests Tigers halfback Luke Brooks says he feels “lucky” to receive such a prestigious award.
The 19-year-old, who had already been voted by his peers as the top Rookie of the Year at the 2014 RLPA Awards earlier in the season, beat the likes of Alex Johnston (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Paul Carter (Gold Coast Titans) and Pauli Pauli (Parramatta Eels) to claim the award in front of a packed house at the Sydney Star Casino.
“It’s a bit surreal to win an award like this,” admitted Brooks afterwards.
“I guess there’s just a few things that [can] come along the way in your career playing football, and I’ve been lucky enough to achieve something like this.
“It’s definitely nice, and it’s a tribute to my teammates that helped me this year.”
Despite coming into the season with high expectations from many outsiders following his memorable debut in 2013, Brooks said that his main goal for 2014 was simply to find some consistency and relish playing first-grade football.
“I definitely didn’t think about awards or anything heading into the year,” he said.
“I think I just wanted to focus on playing as many games as I could and doing well for the team; I wanted the team to have a good year, not me.
“[But] I definitely learned lots from my first full season playing in the NRL.
"The more games I played, the more experience and I got and the more confidence I got, so I think playing those games this year will help me in 2015.
“It’s also really good to have guys like Mitch [Moses] and Teddy [James Tedesco] in the team now; I played lots with them growing up and stuff, so having them in the team now just makes me relax a bit more and feel more confident.”
Brooks becomes the first Wests Tigers player to win the Dally M Rookie of the Year since the Club’s foundation in 2000, and joins a list of several high-profile players who have previously won the award in their rookie season.
“It’s definitely weird to see guys like [Jarryd] Hayne and [Israel] Folau as winners of the award that I’ve just won,” Brooks said about the company of players to win the award.
“Those were guys that I watched growing up, so it’s a bit weird to have my name alongside them and people starting to compare me to them.
“It’s pretty exciting, though, to be honest. It’s really a special thing to happen.”