NRL: Micheal's Luck runs out again

New Zealand Warrior Michael Luck is out for the crucial game against the Titans this weekend. Photo / Greg Bowker
New Zealand Warrior Michael Luck is out for the crucial game against the Titans this weekend. Photo / Greg Bowker

Micheal Luck is looking forward to retirement but he will hope it doesn't come prematurely as he faces another stint on the sidelines because of injury.

The 30-year-old back-rower surprised many when he announced earlier this year he will retire at the end of the season. But he realised his smaller man's body in a big man's game was failing him and he needed to get out.

The latest setback has been a recurrence of the left shoulder injury that required surgery in the off-season and he will miss the Warriors' visit to the Titans on Saturday night.

Luck was only two games into his return after a nine-month layoff. As well as surgery on his left shoulder, he also had two operations on his left wrist.

He was used for 23 minutes against the Sharks in his return on June 16, and 25 minutes against the North Queensland Cowboys last Sunday in what was his 146th match for the club, and 222nd of his career.

"It's not right and I need to get it looked at by the specialist,'' he said.

Steve Rapira takes Luck's place on the bench for his third game of the season and utility Pita Godinet has also been included on a five-man interchange.

The starting line-up is the same used in Sunday's 35-18 defeat of the Cowboys with Omar Slaimankhel officially named for the first time rather than being drafted in as a late replacement for firstly Manu Vatuvei and then Glen Fisiiahi as was the case for his first two NRL appearances.

With Slaimankhel's inclusion, the Warriors will field a backline with an average age of just 21.7 and 33.28 games each. Five-eighth James Maloney, the old man at 26, and fullback Kevin Locke, the second oldest at 23, are the only players in the backline who have made more than 50 NRL appearances.

Around them are three 20-year-olds - Konrad Hurrell, Ben Henry and Slaimankhel - the 21-year-old Shaun Johnson and winger Bill Tupou, who turned 22 yesterday.

"I can't say enough about these young boys. They're doing a fantastic job for us,'' Warriors coach Brian McClennan said. "It says a lot for our club's attitude to developing our own players that all except Jimmy [Maloney] have come through our system and played for Junior Warriors. That's terrific.''

The Warriors are ninth on the NRL table, two points outside the top eight and two points ahead of the 10th-placed Gold Coast. They have an identical record to the same time last year - seven wins, eight defeats - and will need to do something equally special if they are to come close to replicating what they did in 2011.

The Titans welcome back key quartet Luke Bailey, William Zillman, Beau Champion and Matt White from injury as coach John Cartwright today named a near full-strength 17-man squad to tackle the Warriors.

State of Origin duo Nate Myles and Greg Bird have also been named in the hope the pair will be fit to back-up after tomorrow night's State of Origin decider.

Warriors team to play Gold Coast at Skilled Park, Robina, on Saturday night (9.30pm): Kevin Locke, Bill Tupou, Ben Henry, Konrad Hurrell, Omar Slaimankhel, James Maloney, Shaun Johnson, Russell Packer, Nathan Friend, Ben Matulino, Feleti Mateo, Simon Mannering (c), Elijah Taylor. Interchange: Lewis Brown, Sione Lousi, Jacob Lillyman, Steve Rapira, Pita Godinet.

Gold Coast: William Zillman, Kevin Gordon, Jamal Idris, Beau Champion, David Mead, Aidan Sezer, Scott Prince, Luke Bailey, Matt Srama, Luke Douglas, Greg Bird, Mark Minichiello, Nate Myles. Interchange: Matt White, Brenton Lawrence, Ben Ridge, Luke O'Dwyer.

- APNZ

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