Michael Burgess is a sports writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Michael Burgess: There are two sides to Issac Luke

Issac Luke helped the Warriors to a dramatic victory over the Roosters last weekend. Photo / Getty
Issac Luke helped the Warriors to a dramatic victory over the Roosters last weekend. Photo / Getty

So Issac Luke might not be so bad after all.

After a week where everyone got pretty flustered about a couple of monosyllabic answers from the Warriors' hooker, he gave the best possible response last Sunday.

Luke was good against the Roosters, and as his conditioning and combinations improve he will be even better.

It felt as if some got a bit carried away last week - typical of today's world where a couple of quotes go viral and moral outrage ensues.

With our short attention spans, no one has got time for context any more, or some facts that might clarify the situation.

Luke's one-word answers weren't ideal - but hardly the end of the world. And it's par for the course in some parts of the world; just ask those poor souls that cover the Indian cricket team, or some English Premier League reporters who are scrapping for quotes.

Luke is definitely a bit different, but is that so wrong? Do we really want all our sports stars to be the same, in the ultimate vanilla world?

One-on-one, Luke can be one of the most engaging interview subjects in the NRL. He's honest, forthright and entertaining.

He's not as good in front of a media pack nor that comfortable dealing with personal subjects. And Luke had some dark moments in his career, and admitted last year he was a "little shit" in the early days.

But there are two sides to Luke. On last year's Kiwis tour of England he - usually with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck - was always the last left on the field after training, signing countless autographs, holding babies, posing for photos and giving away gear.

On another occasion he endured a long ride in a cramped minivan from Leeds to Manchester, through the notorious M62 traffic. Luke, along with three teammates and coach Stephen Kearney, then spent more than two hours doing radio, print and television interviews before climbing back in the rental to return to Leeds through peak-hour traffic.

Luke's achievements should be respected. It's a long road from Hawera to the top of the NRL tree, and he has defied the odds to make it. And only six Kiwis have played more tests. All that takes a special kind of determination, which he had in spades.

At different times over his 10-year career Luke has been rated the No 1 hooker in the game, even ahead of Cameron Smith. That's quite telling.

It remains to be seen if he still has the hunger and desire to reach those heights again, which will define his impact at the Warriors over the next few seasons. But let's give him a chance to prove himself.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- NZ Herald

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Michael Burgess is a sports writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday. He was named the 2013 New Zealand football writer of the year and was a finalist in the Sports Reporter of the year at the 2014 Canon Media Awards.

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