Warriors coach Stephen Kearney expects struggling hooker Issac Luke to bounce back in his first match against his former NRL club South Sydney at ANZ Stadium tonight.

Luke has been named on the bench for the second week in a row, but may be called up to start against the Rabbitohs after rookie No9 Nathaniel Roache was ruled out after suffering a suspected Achilles tendon injury at training on Wednesday.

Versatile forward Jazz Tevaga has been named as a replacement for Roache, with the Warriors' final 17 to be confirmed an hour before kick-off.

Kearney believes Luke's form slump is symptomatic of his side's lack of confidence, but is backing the 37-test Kiwis international to rise to the occasion when he lines up against his old club for the first time.

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"I think the situation we find ourselves in is a little bit of a reflection of [a lack of] confidence, but with Issac, he's a test veteran," said Kearney.

"And yes, he's having a couple of struggles at the moment, but I'm sure he'll bounce back and he gets an opportunity this week against his old footy club."

Luke played 188 games for Souths and played in the foundation club's 2014 premiership winning side before joining the Warriors as a marquee recruit last season.

After playing the best football of his career in a Rabbitohs team renowned for their size and power - from fullback Greg Inglis, to former five-eighth-turned-back-rower John Sutton, and a monster pack including the Burgess brothers and Ben Te'o - Luke has been unable to rediscover his best form with the Warriors.

The Hawera product has struggled for consistency this season and been guilty of uncharacteristic errors throughout their six-game losing run.

Kearney refused to offer excuses for Luke's decline and denied his drop in form was related to the Warriors' perceived forward deficiencies, after they fared well statistically in their last three games against the Sharks, Knights and Raiders.

"No, absolutely not," he said. "Because over the last three weeks we've run more metres than the opposition. We just didn't quite execute as well as what we possibly should have, particularly at the start of the second-half when we had a number of sets down on the Raiders try line."

Meanwhile, Kearney defended his decision to relegate rookie halfback Mason Lino to the bench and partner young playmaker Ata Hingano with departing five-eighth Kieran Foran.


Foran might be leaving the club at the end of the season, but Kearney's focus is on getting his side back in the winner's circle as they look to avoid equalling a club record eight-straight defeats.

"I think experience helps and it's not a demotion for Mason, he's done a wonderful job, but if Kieran's available then I want him out on the field.

"If Shaun [Johnson] was available, I'm sure I'd get him out on the field as well and that's the nature of the beast.

"I just reckon last weekend we lacked a little bit of polish and finish when we got up into good ball [territory]. I'm sure they'll be fine. Ata's worked well with Shaun at the start of the season and I don't think that will be any different with Kieran."

Souths will be without Sam Burgess for the Warriors game, with their skipper sidelined after struggling to overcome a rib injury in recent weeks.