Driving into the Wests Mitchelton Rugby League Football Club car park for our meeting, I spy him. He’s sitting in his Toyota Hilux ute and still in his work uniform – boots and all.
Having just finished a 12-hour shift, he looks dishevelled, tired and still has dirt on his face. But as usual, he’s here. And he’s on time.
Luke Brookes is the captain of the West Brisbane Panthers for 2015.
A mechanical foreman by trade, Brookes often works these long shifts before training and explains to me some of the sacrifices he makes to be involved with this team.
“Because of my shifts, I don’t have time to do weights after work, so sometimes I have to get up at 4am to do weights before work,’’ Brookes says.
From work he goes straight to training and on some weekends he goes straight to the game after night shift.
It’s that type of work ethic, resilience, toughness and reliability that stood out during the pre-season and the reason why he was given the nod for the captaincy by coach Wayne Weekes.
“I’m really proud to be the captain of the first side for the club, I’m looking forward to getting the culture going and hopefully build the club in the right direction,” Brookes says.
A Wests man through and through, Brookes played at several of the Wests junior affiliate clubs.
“I played all my juniors at Arana (West Arana Hills RLFC) and a bit at Mitchy (Wests Mitchelton RLFC) and then went out to Purtell Park (Wests RLFC), played Colts and stayed out there through to first grade,” he says.
As a young boy looking to play first grade, Brookes has fond memories of the positive impact the senior players had on him and other young players.
“Yeah blokes like Birdy (Robert) Campbell, Cranky (Jason Campbell), Craig Bowen and Pat Farmer. All those blokes were really big on the Wests’ culture and traditions of the club,” Brookes says.
“Things like bringing the young guys through and feeding that on for years to come.”
“They would grab you at training in your first training session and say, ‘you’re doing this with me’ and you’d be running until you all spewed,’’ he says.
Despite it feeling like only yesterday for Brookes, at 35, he’s now in a leadership role and helping to bring through the next crop of players.
“It doesn’t seem like that long ago but it’s good to be able to try and turn it around and give the young blokes at this club what I got at Wests coming through,’’ Brookes says.
“It’s really exciting. With the young blokes we’ve got on board and some of the old guys like myself, everyone’s really keen. We’ve got a good board, got good backing, great facilities at our home grounds and I really feel that this can go somewhere,’’ he says.
And it’s not hard to believe. As we wrap up the interview, Brookes informs me he’s currently working on the ‘Legacy Way Tunnel Project’ at Toowong.
A fitting irony, given the role Brookes is now playing as leader of the next generation of players.
The West Brisbane Panthers play the Gators on Saturday, April 18 at Kev McKell Oval. Open Prems kick off at 1.45pm and BRL kick off at 3.15pm.
Watch the game from a private area on the Arana Leagues Club Alfresco Deck, including 2 hours of beer, wine and soft drink along with finger food from 3pm-5pm for just $50.
Tickets available on the door on the day. Visit our website and Facebook page for more info or contact 0418 394 963 to register your interest.