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Luke out to improve running game

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 31/03/2016 Robert Lowe

Warriors hooker Issac Luke knows there's still work to be done before he recaptures his form of old.

After a leg injury ruled him out against Melbourne, he returned for the Warriors' first win of the NRL season last weekend, starting the match before rookie Jazz Tevaga came off the bench.

A high-profile off-season arrival from South Sydney, Luke was matter-of-fact about how he had gone in his three appearances, which have yielded two tries.

"I've still got to work hard," he said.

"I don't like coming off the field, but Jazz is playing really well. He's keeping me on my toes and making sure I have to push those minutes out."

Asked about areas for improvement, Luke, who is noted for his darts from dummy-half, cited his running game.

"I haven't been running a bit," he said. "I've just got to run heaps."

Luke said neither injury nor attitude was behind his fewer than usual running metres. The reason was something "only I know".

While he works his way back to this best form, the 36-Test Kiwi was full of praise for understudies Tevaga and Nathaniel Roache.

Both made their NRL debuts this season, although Roache is now out with an ankle injury.

"I'm really happy that they're pushing me to the edge," Luke said.

"It's something we want to drive at this club - to compete for your spot every week and really stepping up."

Co-captain on the Kiwis' tour of England last year, the 28-year-old is also enjoying being a mentor.

"I'm not getting any younger and I realise I have to pass down a bit of knowledge," he said.

"I've got two great kids that want to learn. They're sponges. They like to soak it all up."

Coach Andrew McFadden said injury had meant Luke hadn't had continuity in developing combinations with others on the training field.

But he said there had been improvement week by week.

"His real strength is the way he probes around and engages the markers and gets our forwards into the tight spots," McFadden said.

"We probably haven't seen the best of that yet. It's something our forwards are still learning to work with but that will come."

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