NRL: Issac Luke on extended bench for Warriors against Rabbitohs

2019-04-09 05:41:28

Warriors coach Stephen Kearney hopes hooker Issac Luke will be available to play against the Rabbitohs on Saturday, but it's Karl Lawton who's been given the No 9 jersey.

Luke missed last weekend's win over the Titans because of a hamstring strain, picked up in the previous game against the Sea Eagles.

The veteran Kiwi took part in the majority of the team's training session on Tuesday and Kearney says he'll see how Luke goes through the week before confirming whether he'll be the starting hooker.

"He's a chance," Kearney said.

"He got through a bit of running last week and the idea is for him to train with the main group today (Tuesday) and tomorrow and monitor how that goes, but he is a chance."

If Luke can't play, it could leave the Warriors in a dilemma at hooker for this weekend, as Nathaniel Roache is still out injured and Jazz Tevaga has to fight a dangerous tackle charge on Tuesday night.

If found guilty by the NRL, Tevaga would have to serve a one game ban and it could mean Lawton will have to play all 80 minutes at dummy half.

The club decided not to take the early guilty plea with Tevaga, but to fight the charge at a hearing in Sydney, where Tevaga will talk via a video link.

"We're challenging the charge tonight, we just have to wait and see," Kearney said.

"I don't want to stand here and tell you we feel confident, because we're challenging the charge and we'll see what happens."

Although Kearney wouldn't go into detail, he did say they were fighting the charge because a similar incident last weekend went unpunished.

"It's just about the consistency of the process and we'll see how we go."

Meanwhile, prop Bunty Afoa has been named on the interchange bench, despite failing a head injury assessment test during Friday's win.

At training on Tuesday Afoa didn't train with the rest of the team, but Kearney said that didn't mean he wasn't available for the game against the Rabbitohs, which will be played on the Sunshine Coast.

"Part of the concussion protocol is that he's got to step through a process over the course of the week," Kearney explained.

"He's at stage two of the protocol, he's got another one tomorrow and then another one on  Friday, but we're pretty confident he'll be OK."

Sam Lisone is back from suspension so is also on the interchange bench, which means Ligi Sao drops out of the 17 and finds a place on the extended bench.

Chanel Harris-Tavita keeps his place in the team after an impressive debut last weekend, but while it was a good performance he did benefit from having a dominant forward pack in front of him, something that Adam Keighran didn't experience the previous two weeks.

"He was the recipient of an improved team performance and that always helps," Kearney said of Harris-Tavita.

"But he did his job pretty well on Friday and this is the NRL, so it's another big challenge for a young half.

"He's coming up against a pretty slick outfit in South Sydney this weekend, so I know he's looking forward to it."


Rabbitohs: Alex Johnston, Corey Allan, Kyle Turner, Dane Gagai, Campbell Graham, Cody Walker, Adam Reynolds, George Burgess, Damien Cook, Tom Burgess, John Sutton, Sam Burgess, Cameron Murray. Interchange (from): Junior Tatola, Mark Nicholls, Ethan Lowe, Liam Knight, Connor Tracey, Bayley Sironen, Rhys Kennedy, Jacob Gagan.

Warriors: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, David Fusitu'a Peta Hiku, Solomone Kata, Ken Maumalo, Chanel Harris-Tavita, Blake Green, Agnatius Paasi, Karl Lawton, Leeson Ah Mau, Adam Blair, Tohu Harris, Lachlan Burr. Interchange (from): Jazz Tevaga, Isaiah Papali'i, Bunty Afoa, Sam Lisone, Ligi Sao, Gerard Beale, Adam Keighran, Issac Luke.

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