SYDNEY - Benji Marshall says the expectations on boom rookie Luke Brooks should be eased for fears they could stifle the Wests Tigers halfback's development.
Marshall will go head-to-head against 19-year-old Brooks, rated one of the NRL's greatest young talents.
The two team will face each other at ANZ Stadium on Sunday when St George Illawarra play their fellow joint venture.
The 29-year-old Marshall is well placed to comment, with Brooks in similar shoes to those Benji wore as a precocious talent at the Tigers a decade ago.
"I feel a little bit sorry for Brooksy to be honest," Marshall said.
"There's a lot of pressure on him to be the next Joey (Andrew Johns).
This is a big call because Joey is an immortal and probably the greatest player of all time.
"He doesn't need that, he is a kid who is in his first season of first grade.
"He is performing pretty good and you just don't need those raps.
"He might end up being the next Joey but you just don't need those raps.
"For now he doesn't need to be."
Marshall took Brooks under his wing before he left the Tigers at the end of last season.
"When I was there I wanted to help out the young guys in that situation because that was me when I was young.
"I had a lot of pressure and everyone saying these good things about you.
"I was just trying to teach them how to handle it.
"To try and help these young guys (understand) that you can be up there.
"It comes down pretty quickly if you don't perform."