Michael Maguire's imminent appointment as the new Kiwis coach has been given the thumbs up from Warriors hooker Issac Luke – but a shoulder injury could ruin his own hopes of a test recall.
Luke raved about his former South Sydney premiership-winning coach's ability to get the best out of both he and Rabbitohs captain Greg Inglis and believes his hardline approach to training and discipline will give the Kiwis a more ruthless mentality.
"He's tough. He's definitely going to bring a different attitude, a more ruthless attitude," said Luke.
"He brought the best out of me and Greg Inglis, all the boys to be honest, and he's just got that about him."
But after missing selection for last year's World Cup, Luke is unsure if he'll be reunited with his old mentor for the mid-year test against England in Denver, as a recurring shoulder injury threatens to derail his hopes of an international comeback.
The 30-year-old dislocated his shoulder in last week's win over Wests Tigers and despite training on Wednesday, will need to get through Friday's captain's run before being given the all-clear to play in Saturday's Indigenous Round clash against the Tri-Colours.
"I want to play but that's up to the medical staff, they've done a good job of getting me back on my feet again," said Luke.
"I've ticked every box so far strength-wise, but at the end of the day it's the coach's call and whoever plays on the jumper will do a good job."
But while his short-term prospects appear bright, Luke conceded another mishap would force him to go under the knife at the end of the season.
Furthermore, after overcoming a knee injury late last week before being confirmed to play the Tigers, Luke's latest concern could potentially see the club's medical staff rule him unavailable for the historic test on US soil.
Warriors CEO Cameron George has previously stated that only players that are 100 per cent fit would be released for the match, a policy that could see Luke denied the chance to make the long-haul return trip for the match scheduled for June 23.
"I don't know if they'll let me go, especially with this kaka-as shoulder," said Luke.
"I just want to be back in the jersey and if I get a chance I'll grab it with both hands, but if I don't whoever gets the spot will do a good job too."
Meanwhile, an ankle injury is expected to keep Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson sidelined for at least the next two weeks and it remains to be seen whether he is able to make a full recovery to make himself eligible for Kiwis selection.
Backup Warriors halfback Mason Lino will replace Johnson against the Roosters while coach Stephen Kearney confirmed the side is also preparing to be without him for next week's away clash against Parramatta in Sydney.
"There's probably a chance that he won't be ready for next week," said Kearney.
"It's a week to week thing for him at the moment but we anticipate probably a couple of weeks."
Kearney was non-committal when asked if he was willing to release his players for the Denver test and hinted that injuries and other unforeseen issues could impact further on both his own team's and the Kiwis' ambitions.
"That's still a month or so away and as you've seen on the weekend and as you'll possibly see over the course of the whole competition is that things happen in our game quickly so we'll just wait and see what happens closer to the day.
"But my point is the club has always been very supportive of international rugby league, even if it is 20 hours away."
However, the 2008 Kiwis World Cup-winning coach also shares a past with Maguire and is supporting his bid to take over from former New Zealand coach David Kidwell.
"I worked with Madge at Melbourne and I know him pretty well," he said.
"He's won a premiership with South Sydney and he's a quality coach and knows what he's doing so I think it's a positive step for New Zealand Rugby League."
Kearney hinted the two former assistants to Storm coach Craig Bellamy had been in contact while Maguire went about applying for the test role.
"Possibly. He was great. We shared the same office and were roomies when we travelled away so he's very good to work with.
"He went away and was very successful with Wigan for a couple of years and came back and built a really strong culture with South Sydney so he'll be a very positive fit."
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