Luck a winner despite Warriors' loss
As he sat proudly in a corner of the Warriors' dressing room last night, Micheal Luck had more reason than most to look forward to a well-earned rest after helping the Kiwi club to their first grand final in nine years.
The veteran back rower became a father just a little over two weeks ago but with the Warriors' season running all the way through to the first weekend in October, the doting dad has barely had a chance to meet his newborn son.
"He is 17 or 18 days old now and I've only seen him for seven of those days," Luck told NRL.com following Manly's 24-10 win at ANZ Stadium last night.
"We've been away from home six out of the past seven weekends which is a hurdle that no other club has to overcome, so I'm looking forward now that it's over to just going home and staying home for a while.
"My wife (ToniLee), she knows how important this is for me and she has just made it that easy. I've been up worrying about them at times and she has said: 'Don't – everything is covered and we'll be here when you get home'.
"So I can't wait to get home tomorrow and spend a bit of time with them. It will be a fitting end to a pretty good year."
While little Murphy Luck was the subject of an official request from New Zealand Prime Minister John Key last week to have a passport expedited so that he could be present at last night's grand final, his father couldn't have been prouder of what he and the Warriors had achieved over the past month.
"It's been an amazing few weeks ... an amazing ride," he reflected. "I suppose in a couple of days when it's settled in, what has happened over this past month will become apparent.
"But it's been unbelievable. [Dragons hooker] Nathan Fien rang me after the game last Saturday night in Melbourne and said, 'mate, just enjoy the week – you might never get the chance again'. I took that on board and I've had a ball this week. It's been great.
"To see how these young guys have taken on the week, it is good times ahead for this club. We had three grades in and some of the play of these guys is beyond their years. It's freakish. I'm so excited for the future but still, I can't hide the disappointment just yet."
Despite the Warriors' loss, Luck remained as diplomatic as ever afterwards – ruing what might have been but crediting Manly for yet another ruthless performance.
Only briefly, during a thrilling 15-minute period late in the game, did the Warriors threaten a miracle comeback but having trailed 12-2 at the break and 18-2 soon after it was always likely to prove a bridge too far.
"I think we used up a little bit too much petrol in that period before halftime," Luck said. "We needed to get to our kick a little bit better and force a bit more field position on them and we would have been better off – but in saying that I'm so proud of our guys. To still be at 18-10 with 10 minutes to go – we've overcome those hurdles before and there was plenty of belief there but Manly were just better.
"They've been one of the best sides in this comp for a long period of time and they were great again today – they just strangled us out of it."
Luck said he would enjoy some much-needed time at home over the coming weeks but admitted he was already looking forward to being part of the Warriors' next premiership tilt in 2012.
"It's in a good state," he said of the club. "We were up against plenty this year – we travel every second week – but our systems are in place now so that we do it well. Our facilities aren't as good as some clubs but our staff does wonders with what we've got, as do the boys. I'm so proud of our whole organisation and how we've managed to fight this year. It's been a great month and if you could have one of those months every year of your life you're going all right ... but having said that I'd give everything away to have that trophy."