MAITLAND coach Matt Thomas is adamant the best is yet to come from barnstorming Blacks No.8 Travis Brooke.
The nephew of All Blacks great Zinzan, Brooke sits on 13 points, three points clear of Hamilton back-rower Tiueti Asi in Anderson Medal voting approaching the halfway point of the season.
Wanderers duo Luke Sherwood and Ben Ham and Lake Macquarie playmaker Jarrod Nyssen are equal third on seven points, a point above two-time medal-winner Carl Manu (Maitland) and Hamilton fly-half Dane Sherratt.
Incredibly, Brooke has polled 11 points from a possible 12 in the last four rounds, including maximum points in the 34-21 loss to Hamilton at Passmore Oval.
"I reckon he still has room for improvement," Thomas said on Brooke. "He is just starting to find his rhythm. His timing had been a bit off with his running and at lineouts. He is now leading the way for the pack. We still have to manage his knee, but he works hard on his rehab and it is starting to pay off."
Brooke and Maitland prop Harrison Chapman helped steer adopted zone Far North Coast to a resounding 53-28 win over Central North in the final of the second-tier Richardson Shield at the Country Championships in Tamworth last weekend.
A NSW Country squad will be named this weekend and Thomas, who coached the Cockatoos last year, expects both Blacks to feature.
"I'd say they will both make the Country squad and be away from us for a little while," he said.