All the action as the New Zealand Warriors took on the St George Illawarra Dragons in the NRL.

Issac Luke faces a battle to win back the No 9 jersey at the Warriors, after being dropped over concerns with his defensive game.

The Kiwis hooker was the most notable casualty from Sunday's 36-18 loss to the Knights.

Not only did he lose his starting position to Nathaniel Roache, but Australian Karl Lawton has taken the utility role on the bench, meaning a rare outing for Luke in reserve grade.

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"[Defence] is a really important part of our game, in that area [there] needs to be some improvement," said coach Stephen Kearney, when asked why Luke had been axed.

"He's very experienced, he understands in this competition it's about performing, what he needs to do to get back to playing his best."

Captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck admitted the relegation of the 260-game veteran was unexpected, but the 31-year-old had responded well.

"It was surprising but that is the plan we are going with this weekend and the coach has made the call," said Tuivasa-Sheck. "We have to back Karl who is coming up. Isaac's been good; he trained really well. It's always tough to go back to the Cup side … but Isaac is a professional. He will take it in for a bit but then he will get on with his next job."

It will remain a fluid situation, but Roache may now have the inside running. Luke was one of the best Warriors players across the 2018 season, but has struggled to hit those heights this year, and gain the match fitness required.

"Bully had a hampered back end of the pre-season with a shoulder and a hamstring," said Kearney. "That was the challenge that we had, trying to manage his time. In that position, in the middle, you are going to get some work."