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Auto Poster Promising signs for Warriors hooker Issac Luke after hitting 'rock bottom'

Discussion in 'News' started by Stuff News Articles, Mar 13, 2018.

  1. Stuff News Articles

    Stuff News Articles Auto Poster

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    Promising signs for Warriors hooker Issac Luke after hitting 'rock bottom'



    Last updated 17:53, March 13 2018

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    Issac Luke was one of the Warriors' best during the win over the Rabbitohs.


    Warriors coach Stephen Kearney is taking a cautious approach when it comes to reinvigorated dummy-half Issac Luke.

    After two years struggling to live of to expectations since his high-profile move from the Rabbitohs, Luke wound back the clock during Saturday's 32-20 win over his former club in Perth.

    Showing all the benefits, including a trim physique, of a full pre-season after being overlooked for the Kiwis' World Cup squad, the 30-year-old veteran produced the type of display that had him once regarded as the best running hooker in the game, making 113m and five tackle busts.

    Kearney has noticed a change in attitude from Luke and believes the Kiwis snub was the catalyst for that.

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    But as is the case for the rest of the squad, the challenge now is to maintain that form on a week-to-week basis.

    "With a couple of years of under-performing in Issac's eyes and in the club's eyes... it came together where he missed the World Cup squad. And I think sometimes you've got to hit rock bottom to get yourself out of it," Kearney said.

    "It's about turning up this week and putting in another performance. But I was pleased for him and pleased with his performance on the weekend."

    Luke played 67 minutes against South Sydney and looked primed to go the distance before he was replaced by debutant Sam Cook due to a head knock.

    But as impressive as he was, Kearney says Luke, who suffered a hamstring injury last month, is still not ready to play a full game.

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    "I don't see Issac being able to go a full 80 at the minute," the coach said. "We'll see how that goes but at this stage, to get the most effectiveness out of him he will probably need to have a spell at some stage."

    Luke is part of an unchanged 21-man squad named for the Warriors' first home game of the season, against Gold Coast at Mt Smart on Saturday.

    New five-eighth Blake Green and centre Solomone Kata were among a handful of players that sat out training on Tuesday due to a stomach virus, but are expected to play.

    Veteran back-rower Simon Mannering, however, is unlikely to be cleared of the shoulder problem that kept him out of the season-opener.

    "Simon's a week-to-week proposition," Kearney added. "I'm doubtful he'll be ready for this week. He's a quick healer but we want to make sure we're doing the right thing and looking after him."

    The Warriors' maiden victory in Perth has given them the chance to open a campaign with back-to-back wins for the first time since 2009 and only the third time in the club's history.

    But while the Auckland outfit have their tails up following last week's result, they are coming up against a Titans side with no shortage of confidence themselves after a stunning comeback win over Canberra.

    "What we achieved in Perth was certainly pleasing after the players had worked really hard in the pre-season," said Kearney.

    "The result there brought a sense of relief and also a sense of confidence in the way the players went about executing the game plan.

    "But for us it's now all about this week and preparing well to give us the best chance of performing well on Saturday."

    Warriors: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (c), David Fusitu'a, Peta Hiku, Solomone Kata, Ken Maumalo, Blake Green, Shaun Johnson, James Gavet, Issac Luke, Adam Blair, Isaiah Papali'i, Tohu Harris, Ligi Sao. Interchange: Sam Cook, Leivaha Pulu, Sam Lisone, Bunty Afoa, Anthony Gelling, Jazz Tevaga, Agnatius Paasi, Mason Lino.

    - Stuff

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