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Brooks set for battle with Bears

Zach Brooks is another graduate of a junior grand final that keeps on giving.

Brooks was only 16 when he featured in the Mel Meninga Cup Under 18 grand final at Bishop Park in 2018.

Brooks wore a Norths Devils jersey alongside Jordan Riki, Ethan Bullemor, Cory Paix and Zak McGuire.

Souths Logan included David Fifita, Tanah Boyd, Tesi Niu in a team that won a dramatic match 18-16.

While some of those players were soon in the NRL, Brooks admitted his career was at the crossroads in the Covid-ruined 2020 season.

He had returned from a stint with the Sydney Roosters and the Covid-lockdowns cast his mind to life beyond sport.

Brooks credits a 2021 pre-season with the Devils’ Hostplus Cup squad for sparking friendships that re-ignited his interest in the game. He was the Devils’ Colts player of the year in 2022 and fittingly made his Cup debut this season with former teammate McGuire.

“That was an awesome feeling to be out there with Zak and to be playing with some of the guys I’d looked up to for a long time,” Brooks said.

“You want to be around good people and that’s what they are. They’re also good footy players but they have helped me on and off the field.

“I’ve enjoyed playing for Dave (coach Dave Elliott) and being around those guys.”

Brooks added eight kilograms in the off-season for a 98kg frame that has helped make his presence felt in the middle for the Devils.

The former Valleys junior will again be a key performer when the 2021 and 2022 premiers renew their rivalry with the Bears at Burleigh tomorrow afternoon.

“We know they’re consistently one of the best teams in the competition and it takes a good performance to beat them,” Brooks said.

“I know that our team is close and we go into every game wanting to play well for each other. We’ll be doing that tomorrow and it will be a good test for us.”

The Devils are coming off their first bye of the season after the disappointment of a narrow loss to the Capras in Rockhampton.

The Devils clawed back from 0-20 to seize the lead with four minutes remaining only for the Capras to score late.

This will be Brooks’ first match against the Bears.

“The contact hasn’t been too different to my expectations but the speed of the game has definitely been quicker. It’s another level,” Brooks said.

“I’ve been learning so much this season and I’ve been helped so much by my teammates,” Brooks said.

“If I make a mistake, I try to learn from it and get better.

“It’s been a lot of fun.”

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