Hugh McGahan is a former Kiwis player and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Hugh McGahan: Hooker Issac Luke's out of form and out of order

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Issac Luke needs to learn to get along with the media. Photo / Getty Images
Issac Luke needs to learn to get along with the media. Photo / Getty Images

I was surprised and more than a little disappointed to listen to Issac Luke when he addressed the media this week.

It wasn't just the words he used (or didn't use) but the tone of his voice and prickly responses when being questioned about his form and injuries. It reminded me of Brisbane fullback Darius Boyd and that's not a good thing, especially for someone of Luke's experience and standing in New Zealand rugby league.

Not only is he a leader at the Warriors but he's also Kiwis co-captain and should have known better. He has had plenty of experience with media and public relations and should know how to handle himself, especially as the individual asking the questions was respected commentator Allen McLaughlin, who has never been out to put a negative spin on anything to do with rugby league.

It was disrespectful.

I get it that he has been having a few issues at home following the birth of his daughter, and I have the utmost empathy for him on that front, but it doesn't mean he has the right to treat the media with contempt.

I was heartened to hear coach Andrew McFadden come out and say Luke's performance had been unacceptable.

We all have bad days at work or at home but we need to be professional and respectful in our dealings with people.

It's often said in media and sports circles that dealings between the two form "a game" and that sportsmen and women need to play the game. It's what Luke should have done.

The last thing he should have done is give the media, including me, ammunition to have a crack.

He needs to learn to get along with them, even if he disagrees with what is being said about him, because you can't beat the media.

What I hate is players becoming robotic in their dealings with media. They are often coached on what to say and how to say it and many follow their scripts verbatim.

Others feel more comfortable operating off the cuff and aren't afraid to show some of their personality.

That's to be encouraged.

Unfortunately, some of his younger team-mates might see his interview and think it's OK to behave the way Luke did. I hope someone such as impressive young hooker Jazz Tevaga learns the playing skills of Luke and not his approach to media.

Maybe the stonewall was also a response to the fact Luke hasn't really played at a level we expect.

Form will come when his condition improves, but I find it staggering he was so badly out of shape, as McFadden mentioned.

There will always be some players who test the boundaries when they join a new club and it's up to coaches to stamp it out.

At the Storm, for example, they have a "fat club" and anyone not meeting expectations is put into this group. And they are forced to be in it the following season as well to ensure they don't turn up out of shape again.

It will be interesting to see what Luke is like next time he fronts he media. He might even be over the top in his responses, which would be equally immature and disrespectful. If he came out and apologised, that would be a start.

- Herald on Sunday

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Hugh McGahan is a former Kiwis player and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Hugh Joseph McGahan MBE was a renowned rugby league player and coach who represented New Zealand in no less than 53 test matches, captaining 17 of them. Beginning his career in Auckland he later moved to Sydney where he played over 100 matches for the Roosters, finishing his career in 1991 as captain-coach of the eastern Sydney outfit. Accolades were never far away from the impressive Kiwi lock and in 1987 McGahan jointly won the prestigious Golden Boot Award, the first row forward at the time to win the award. Hugh McGahan’s international career was similarly impressive coming to the fore in 1982 after scoring a remarkable six tries for the Kiwis against Papua New Guinea in Auckland. Hugh Mcgahan ended his career with distinguished honours as he was awarded the Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to rugby and later inducted into the NZRL Legends of League. He continues to write sports columns for the New Zealand Herald.

Read more by Hugh McGahan

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