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High praise for halves ahead of clash with Dragons

After two heart-stopping victories over the Eels and Rabbitohs, the Wests Tigers playing group is full of praise for their new-look halves pairing.

Head Coach Michael Maguire elected to switch Jackson Hastings into the halfback role ahead of the Easter Monday clash, allowing Luke Brooks to focus on his running game at five-eighth.

The decision has already paid dividends for the black-and-gold, who have scored a total of 44 points against two of the toughest defensive outfits in the competition.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday, co-captain James Tamou stated that Hastings' return from suspension has breathed new life into the side’s attack.

“He’s just a footy-head through and through. He loves footy, he can speak about footy for ages, he knows the game and he’s always talking”.

Tamou not getting complacent

Hastings had his hands all over the attack last weekend, touching the ball on 102 occasions - the most for any half in a single game over the past decade.

Throughout his fourteen-year career, Tamou has been blessed to play alongside some of the best rugby league minds in the business.

He likens Hastings’ rugby league brain to that of Jonathan Thurston and Nathan Cleary, but believes that his closest comparison lies with premiership-winning five-eighth James Maloney.

His footy IQ is just unreal and it definitely helps us forwards

James Tamou

Jacob Liddle echoed the sentiments of his skipper, stating that the team has been able to generate energy and build belief on the back of Hastings’ form.

Liddle: We're starting to click

“He’s been so good at halfback. He’s everywhere on the field and Brooksy’s working off him and playing well”

“It’s a good combo they’ve got going there”

Luke Brooks ran the ball twelve times against South Sydney on Saturday, including a spectacular seventy-metre intercept try that gave his side the lead.

He then stepped up to take the match-winning field goal, slotting it from twenty metres out with just two minutes remaining on the clock.

Unfortunately for Brooks and Hastings, they won’t be able to continue their partnership with Daine Laurie, who has suffered an MCL sprain and will be out of action for 4-6 weeks.

Starford To’a is expected to replace Laurie at the back after an impressive stint at fullback in the second half against the Rabbitohs, and Liddle believes that ‘Star’ is the right man to fill Laurie’s void.

“He went well on the weekend while slotting in there, so he’ll do the job for us”

“He’ll do the same things that Daine’s been doing, so it won’t change much for our attack”

To’a and his side will be eager to improve on their impressive winning record at WIN Stadium, with Wests Tigers winning four of their past five matches in Wollongong dating back to 2000.

Acknowledgement of Country

Wests Tigers respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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