Warriors hooker Issac Luke is firming to take his place in Saturday's NRL clash against Wests Tigers after coming through Friday's captain's run unscathed.

The Herald understands Luke completed the Warriors final hit-out at Mt Smart Stadium, despite a knee injury suffered in last week's 50-10 Anzac Day defeat to Melbourne, although backup hooker Karl Lawton also ran in the dummy-half role at different stages of the session.

Coach Stephen Kearney has until an hour before kick-off to confirm his final 17, but Luke's presence would give the home side a huge boost as they look to get their campaign back on track against a dangerous Tigers outfit.

Senior forward Adam Blair says it's imperative they get off to a fast start after they were blown off the park in the first half against the Storm, which followed another sluggish effort in their only other loss against Brisbane three weeks ago.


"We've got to be like [Melbourne]," said Blair.

"We've got to turn up ready to go. We've put in a few good performances like that, but a couple where we haven't turned up.

"But when you're playing good, teams are going to start turning up and coming over here and playing some good footy.

"Preparation has been key throughout our eight weeks and it's making sure that we're prepared and turn up with the mindset that we're going to start fast and play fast."

The Tigers, coached by former Warriors fullback and coach Ivan Cleary, are also looking to bounce back after suffering a 24-22 loss to Parramatta last Sunday.

The visitors' line-up contains several faces familiar to local fans including former Warriors Ben Matulino, Elijah Taylor and Pita Godinet, and captain and former Kiwis skipper Benji Marshall.

Former Warriors prop Ben Matulino has been outstanding in his first season at Wests Tigers. Photo / Getty Images.
Former Warriors prop Ben Matulino has been outstanding in his first season at Wests Tigers. Photo / Getty Images.

Warriors second-rower Simon Mannering played nine years alongside Matulino before he departed the club at the end of last year, and is expecting big things from his good mate who is enjoying a career renaissance at the joint venture club.

"That will be the first time a lot of us have played against him and we all know what he's capable of and what he's going to bring on Saturday," said Mannering.

"You get over it pretty quick once it all starts but it's good to see him and a lot of our ex-players doing well at the Tigers and you're just happy for them as former teammates.


"I'm sure he's looking to put in a really big performance and you wouldn't expect anything less from Ben."

Cleary said Matulino had enjoyed a low-key build-up but expects the 29-year-old former Kiwis test prop to impress at his old stomping ground.

"He hasn't really spoken about it, Benny. He doesn't say that much," said Cleary.

"He is looking forward to coming back and playing well.

"It's funny sometimes when you play against your old teammates. It's a bit of a weird feeling but I'm sure once [the game] is up and running he understands his job and that's what he'll be focused on."

Cleary was reportedly seething following his side's lackluster performance against the Eels after they committed 10 errors and conceded nine penalties.

But he remains confident they can turn things around and believes his players can handle whatever the Warriors throw at them regardless of whether Luke plays.

"Whether he plays or he doesn't, if we get our game on then we can limit anyone in their team."

Warriors v Wests Tigers at Mt Smart Stadium, Saturday, 7.30pm
Warriors: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (c) 2. David Fusitu'a 3. Peta Hiku 4. Solomone Kata 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Blake Green 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Bunty Afoa 9. Issac Luke 10. Agnatius Paasi 11. Simon Mannering 12. Tohu Harris 13. Adam Blair
Interchange: 14. Karl Lawton 15. Sam Lisone 16. Isaiah Papali'i 17. James Gavet 20. Mason Lino 21. Albert Vete

Wests Tigers: 1. Corey Thompson 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Esan Marsters 4. Kevin Naiqama 5. Mahe Fonua 6. Benji Marshall (c) 7. Luke Brooks 8. Matt Eisenhuth 9. Pita Godinet 10. Ben Matulino 11. Chris Lawrence 12. Robert Rochow 13. Elijah Taylor
Interchange: 14. Alex Twal 15. Josh Aloiai 16. Michael Chee Kam 17. Sauaso Sue 18. Tim Grant 20. Malakai Watene-Zelezniak

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