David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

NRL: Issac Luke admits he has to work harder

Warriors hooker Issac Luke believes he has work to do to improve his form and match fitness. Photo/Getty.
Warriors hooker Issac Luke believes he has work to do to improve his form and match fitness. Photo/Getty.

Warriors' hooker Issac Luke admits he has some work to do to reach his best form but is confident his renowned running game will come to the fore as the season progresses.

Luke has come if for some criticism early on this season after struggling to impose himself on attack in a Warriors side battling for cohesion and fluency, before missing the round three clash against Melbourne with a knee injury.

He returned for Monday's morale-boosting win over Newcastle and scored a try late in the second-half after sharing the dummyhalf duties with impressive rookie Jazz Tevaga.

However, he admits his running game is not at the level he would like and says he is working towards playing a full 80 minutes each week.

"I've still got to work hard," said Luke.

"I haven't been running much so I've got to run heaps.

"I don't like coming off the field but Jazz is playing really well so he's keeping me on my toes and making sure that I've got to push the minutes out."

When asked whether attitude or injury were factors behind his lack of involvement with the ball in hand, Luke was reluctant to elaborate and offered two one word denials.

"Only I know," was as much as the 28-year-old Kiwis co-captain was willing to offer before explaining he was accustomed to warming into his role over the first weeks of the competition.

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"I wasn't going to push that out right away. At Souths, where I was, they didn't push it out of me in the first couple of rounds, and I've just got to keep working."

However, coach Andrew McFadden felt his No9 had suffered from injury and fitness setbacks but believes he is getting better with each outing.

More finesse and involvement would come as the forwards learn how to put themselves in positions to capitalise on Luke's silky skills around the ruck.

"He's improving from week to week," said McFadden. "He hasn't had a lot of luck with injuries and consistency of being on the training park and that's critical to developing combinations and performance so hopefully we get to string some weeks together and I know he'll get better.

"His real strength is the way he probes around and engages the markers and gets our forwards into the tight spots.

"We probably haven't seen the best of that yet and that's something our forwards are still learning to work with but that will come."

McFadden predicts an unchanged line-up from the Knights victory would take the field against the last-placed and winless Sydney Roosters in Gosford on Sunday.

Blockbusting centre Solomone Kata and lock Albert Vete had both recovered from leg knocks but back-rower Bodene Thompson is unlikely to be a late addition, after being sidelined with a rib injury suffered against the Storm.

"Solomone has pulled up really well. It was a pretty decent cork but he should be fine," he said. "And Albert's the same, his scans were cleared and he should be right.

"He's (Thompson) still recovering from a rib injury and I don't think he's overly comfortable at the moment. My prediction is we'll go in as named."

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