Hampered by injuries in recent years, Issac Luke has come to realise that sometimes you simply have to dial it back.

After years of being one of the NRL's elite hookers and playing with the intensity of a junkyard dog for the full 80 minutes, a variety of injuries have limited his playing time since joining the Warriors in 2016.

"It's a good learning curve," Luke tells the Herald. "When I was young I used to be able to just get through it and be alright with it, but this time it's one injury onto the other, so I just have to look after myself.

"You just have to respect your body, you know? Know when it's time to stop, know when it's time to just go 'alright, I'll step back here and look after myself'."


The 31-year-old has missed games in all four of his campaigns with the Warriors, including the fresh 2019 campaign, and has been an 80-minute option in less than half of the matches he's played for the club.

Last season, Luke produced 13 performances of 80 minutes or more and looked to be getting back toward the form he showed in his time with the South Sydney Rabbitohs. However shoulder and hamstring issues have limited his production in 2019, keeping him out of the preseason and two of the side's first six matches.

Across the four game he's played, Luke has been on the turf for an average of 43 minutes per game, allowing young duo Jazz Tevaga and Nathaniel Roache to take on dummy half duties.

Injuries have hampered Issac Luke's career with the Warriors. Photo / Getty Images
Injuries have hampered Issac Luke's career with the Warriors. Photo / Getty Images

While Luke is still confident he can be an 80-minute option going forward, he knows it's important for him to be able to mentor the team's hookers of the future.

"We've got some good young hookers in there and we have to get them ready," he says.

"I'm not going to be here forever, my time's coming up, and I've just got to help get Nate ready, Jazzy's doing a good job there, but just to get them ready for whatever happens next season or if I'm still here."

"I'm not going to retire, I'm going to try and hang around but we don't know what's going to happen. It was the same last year, I didn't know what was going to happen, I didn't know if I was going to stay, but that's far and beyond what I should be thinking right now."

Instead, Luke will turn his focus to the Warriors' frustrating 17-10 loss against the North Queensland Cowboys at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday night and how the side can bounce back on a short turnaround when they visit the Melbourne Storm on Thursday.


"We were our own worst enemies. There's easy fixes, but we just have to be a lot harder on ourselves when it comes to those moments."

It was the second week in a row where the Warriors played well in most facets of the game but were unable to get the rewards on the scoreboard. Against the Cowboys, errors sank almost every opportunity the Warriors created for themselves off the back of a strong defence and some decent attacking phases.

"You can't dwell on games; it's a long season, but in the end we want these games to count so we don't put ourselves in strife coming to the back end of the season."