NRL: Luke looks forward to taking on mates

By David Skipwith

Isaac Luke. Photo / Getty Images
Isaac Luke. Photo / Getty Images

Rabbitohs hooker Issac Luke is relishing the prospect of lining up against some of his best friends when they host the Warriors at nib Stadium in Perth tonight.

The Kiwis No 9 always enjoys testing himself against his fellow countrymen and is keen to follow up on some text message banter exchanged during the build-up.

"I can't wait to play against the boys," Luke told the Rabbitohs' website. "I'm really close with a few of them. Ben Matulino's my best mate so we've been texting a bit.

"It'll be good to get out and obviously do the 80 minutes and be able to catch up with them afterwards."

Luke is eager to impress in just his second outing following nine weeks spent on the sidelines recovering from surgery after injuring a shoulder in the Rabbitohs round three clash against Wests Tigers.

Coach Michael Maguire eased the 27-year-old back into action in last Monday's 29-10 win over St George Illawarra, with Luke racking up 50 minutes through two stints on the park, helping the Rabbitohs climb into fourth place on the NRL ladder.

"I pulled up all right. I only got about 50 minutes, but I'm happy with how I went," he said. "I went out there and tried to do my job and did as much as I could."

During his enforced absence, Luke says he was able to take on board some lessons on how to improve his own play, while he was also able to offer some constructive feedback to young up and coming hookers Apisai Koroisau and Cam McInnes.

"I got to spend a bit of time in the box with Madge [Maguire] and I saw a lot up there that I could pass on to young Api and Cam and I saw a lot myself for when I was due back.

"There were a lot of things that I need to work on and a lot of things that I saw that I could add to my game. I can work on my kicking - I'm not the biggest kicker but if I could add that to my game that could help out our kickers, and also just noting where the best possible targets are in the defensive line."

After struggling with discipline and attitude problems early on in his career, the playmaker credits a strong family support network and a positive team environment for helping him turn things around over the past two years.

"I've just grown up. I've got a really strong family base behind me and a great brotherhood that I work with every day as well as great coaching staff. I've got the right people around me at the moment and I'm just loving life. Everyone sort of goes through rough patches and I was going through it for a few years but I managed to patch everything up that I needed to and it's going well for me."

Luke is wary of an improved Warriors side.

"They've been playing really good so obviously we'll be producing a lot of things that we can work on and [targeting] a lot of spots that we can sort of tire out. I know their forward pack is massive so we're going to have to do a really good job on them."

- NZ Herald

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