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Luke Brooks signs, Koula knocks back Wallabies and two others join as part of Manly signing spree

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26th June, 2023
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Luke Brooks is set to join Manly for 2024, with the club confirming a four-year deal for the Wests Tigers halfback as part of a signing blitz that sees them grab Jaxson Paulo from the Roosters, Tommy Talau from the Tigers and give a three-year extension to Rugby Australia target Tolutau Koula.

Paulo arrives on a four-year deal after being squeezed out of the Roosters by the arrival of Newcastle winger Dom Young and the extension of Daniel Tupou, while Talau gets a two-year contract to switch from Wests.

Koula’s extension begins at the end of next season, meaning he is secured on the Northern Beaches until 2027, putting to bed any speculation that he will swap codes.

Wallabies coach Eddie Jones had identified Koula, a former standout schoolboy rugby union player at Newington College, as one of his prime targets from the NRL ranks, but he is now off the market beyond the 2025 Lions Tour and likely the 2027 World Cup.

The move for Brooks ends one of the NRL’s longest-running sagas, with the Tigers finally set to lose their flagship local junior after over 200 games at the club.

The signing represents a coup for Manly, who will get to play Brooks alongside their talisman Daly Cherry-Evans for the final two years of his career, as part of a stellar spine along with Tom Trbojevic and Lachlan Croker.

“Luke is a quality half-back, a former Dally M halfback of the year, and brings over 200 games of experience to our club,’’ said coach Anthony Seibold.

“He has got a fantastic left foot kicking game and is a really good runner of the football. We feel as though he will add to the spine players we have already got at our club.

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It will likely end the experiment of playing Josh Schuster at five eighth, however, with the Samoan international likely to return to his previous position in the back-row, if he extends at the club.

There had been much talk that Schuster would go the other way to Brooks and join the Tigers on a big money deal, but it was reported yesterday in the Sydney Morning Herald that incoming coach Benji Marshall had turned down the move.

Manly and the Tigers have been busy in the market together of late. Tommy Talau is set to swap Concord for Brookvale in the coming days as the Sea Eagles look to use some of the spare salary cap they incurred from Trbojevic’s injury on NSW duty to bolster their outside backs.

Youngster Latu Fainu – and potentially brother Samuela, who has been in and out of first grade this year – are expected to go in the opposite direction as the Tigers look to the future.

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