Michael Burgess

Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

League: I'm not Lucky - just Lowrie

Todd Lowrie preparing for Warriors duty. Photo / Getty Images
Todd Lowrie preparing for Warriors duty. Photo / Getty Images

Todd Lowrie doesn't want to be the new Micheal Luck at the Warriors.

That's so even if the former Eel and Storm player brings many of the same qualities as club legend Luck. He baulks at the comparison.

"I don't know what people are expecting but I am not going to try to be the new Micheal Luck," Lowrie told the Herald on Sunday. "What Lucky did for this club over the years and what he achieved ... I'm certainly not going to come close to the stuff that he did for this club."

Luck retired at the end of last season having played 150 NRL games for the Mt Smart club, many of them battling injuries that would have floored lesser men. He was a tackling machine - once making 74 in a single game and twice topping the NRL season count - and developed into one of the best leaders the Warriors have ever had.

"I am certainly not comparing myself to Lucky - obviously the comparisons are going to be there with the blond hair, good looks, etc," laughs Lowrie.

"However, I won't try to replicate his role and want to play my own game."

There is no doubt, however, that Lowrie needs to be a version of Luck - providing defensive leadership, an appetite for tackling and stability in the centre of the ruck. At 1.87m and 98kg, he is of almost identical build and has the same work ethic, with perhaps slightly more to offer on attack.

"He will be our glue in the middle of the park," says coach Matthew Elliott, who is already effusive about the impact of the 29-year-old.

"He's made his presence felt in a big way; his work ethic, attention to detail and expectation of himself and his team-mates have been a major positive," says Elliott.

"Whoever was behind his recruitment - and obviously it wasn't me - deserve some real credit."

Lowrie has been described as an NRL journeyman but plenty with that description have prospered at Mt Smart. After growing up in the Hunter region of New South Wales, Lowrie started his career with the Newcastle Knights, making his debut in June 2003 and spending four seasons on the Central Coast before a three-year stint at Parramatta.

He had three seasons with the Storm, culminating in last year's grand final victory over the Bulldogs.

He reports that pre-season in Auckland has been quite different from Melbourne but "as hard as anywhere".

"It was very hard here and it is very hard there," says Lowrie. "It's been long days and tough work - off-seasons suck."

According to Lowrie, some of the toughest sessions came in the initial week, under the feared gaze of Ruben Wiki.

"On my first day back, I met Ruben Wiki the trainer, not the player," laughs Lowrie. "Some of his drills were some of the hardest things we have done this off-season. There were lots of Wiki specials, with cross training, burpees and 'bear crawls' up hills."

One issue that Lowrie is happy to confront is the 'Storm slide' - where players reach high standards and look a million dollars in Melbourne, only to be a shadow of their former selves when away from the renowned Storm systems and their superstar playmakers.

History shows that, away from the magic trio of Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk and the incredible structures they provide, it can be a quick journey from a Mercedes to a Mini.

Steve Turner was an Origin winger but has not been sighted at that level since moving clubs.

Matt King played for Australia, while Ben Cross, Brett White and Antonio Kaufusi hit unprecedented heights while in Melbourne. In 2012, Adam Blair was the latest player whose post-Melbourne output was significantly different.

"I know it has been highlighted over the last few years with some blokes that have left and not gone so flash," says Lowrie.

"It is something I have thought about myself and certainly addressed and I'm going to work hard to maintain my standards every week."

"My goal is just to play consistent, good footy every week. I don't know what we are capable of this year but hopefully I can help us be as successful as we can be."

With his experience (his 163 NRL matches are second only to Simon Mannering among current Warriors) and background (he was part of the leadership group at the Storm) Lowrie's name was floated as a contender for the captaincy post at the Warriors but he says it was not something he considered.

"I never saw anyone else other than Simon doing it, to be honest," says Lowrie. "He is a natural fit. He is a wonderful leader and a perfect captain for this club."

- Herald on Sunday

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf02 at 24 Oct 2014 00:14:50 Processing Time: 419ms