David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

League: Warriors celebrate Issac Luke's 200th NRL game and big win over Newcastle with jubilant group photo

The Warriors took time to celebrate Issac Luke's 200th NRL match with a group photo following Saturday's emphatic 50-14 victory over Newcastle. Photo/Instagram
The Warriors took time to celebrate Issac Luke's 200th NRL match with a group photo following Saturday's emphatic 50-14 victory over Newcastle. Photo/Instagram

The Warriors celebrated Issac Luke's 200th NRL appearance and back-to-back wins with a boisterous team photo in the changing sheds following Saturday's clinical 50-14 victory over Newcastle.

The nine tries to two thrashing saw the Warriors back-up last week's dominant 36-18 result over Brisbane with an emphatic away win at Hunter Stadium.

Having emerged from a dark period that saw them heavily criticised after losing three of four games, the Warriors took time to savour the moment and commemorate Luke's milestone match with a jubilant group photo.

The full NRL squad and members of the coaching staff were joined in the picture by the club's reserve grade side, who continued their seven-game winning streak with a narrow 34-32 Intrust Super Premiership win over the Knights.

Luke later shared the photo with his 143,000 Instagram followers, including a heartfelt message paying tribute to his teammates, family, and former club South Sydney, for their support during his 10-year career.

"Thank you to @nzwarriors brothers for being part of this milestone of mine," said Luke.

"To represent my family in a sport that me and my brothers grew wanting to be part of is definitely something I'll remember forever.

"Would also like to thank the @ssfcrabbitohs for being part of my life. I will never forget what the members fans and club have done for me. In supporting me through thick and thin.

"And last but not least my beautiful wife @mickayelaluke for driving me to be the man I am today."

Warriors front-rower Jacob Lillyman said it was important to acknowledge Luke's achievement and for the team to enjoy the good times.

"Issac, bringing up his 200th game, it was a pretty big milestone and we had all the NSW Cup boys in the changing sheds with us," said Lillyman.

"They had a good win as well, so it was important to celebrate as a whole squad and we did that in the dressing rooms.

"It's always a happy place when you put 50 on a team, no matter how they're going, so it was certainly a good moment for the team."

Lillyman said the Warriors had absorbed some harsh lessons in the wake of an embarrassing Anzac Day defeat to Melbourne Storm, and consecutive losses to Penrith and Canberra, before turning their season around with a brace of wins in the last fortnight.

Those hard times were now being used as motivation for further improvement as they eye a third straight win in Sunday's clash against the struggling Sydney Roosters at Mt Smart Stadium.

"It's been a very tough period that we've come through, up there with the toughest I've ever experienced, to be quite frank," he said.

"There were a lot of valuable lessons learned and we've just got to remember the place we were at and use that to help drive us forward.

"We're making all the right moves and starting to play with a bit more confidence."

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