Trimmed down Luke pumped for trial
After starting the off-season with a few too many big efforts at the dinner table in the United States, Warriors hooker Issac Luke has shed six kilograms ahead of the club's first trial match this weekend.
Following his co-captaining of the Kiwis on their end-of-year tour of England Luke and his family spent some time holidaying in the USA, where he admits the local hospitality eventually got the better of him.
"I went to America, far out, those fellas aren't shy about giving you food over there," Luke said.
"We had a Christmas before Christmas and I just went hard (on the food).
"But I have got back down to my playing weight. I have lost six kilograms so I have lost a bit of weight.
"This time last year I would have been about 90kgs and now I am 88 or 87."
With the interchange reducing from 10 to eight in 2016 Luke sees some positives in a lower playing weight as he aims for 80 minutes each week, but is determined not to lose any strength which would be detrimental to his defensive game.
"I sort of have to find a balance and make sure I stay strong in the gym because I am in the middle and the big fellas are running at me, so I have to make sure I can make my tackles," he said.
"But fitness wise I hopefully should be alright.
"I think that hooker is going to be the most important position realistically. You don't want two dummy halves on the field, you only want one, which will give you an extra forward.
"Most teams should have an 80-minute hooker now."
After being held back from taking part in the Downer NRL Auckland Nines last weekend by coach Andrew McFadden, Luke is excited to have his first run in a Warriors jersey this Saturday against the Titans in Whangarei.
Luke joins winger Manu Vatuvei as the only veterans included in the squad, which is primarily made up of players in their second year of Telstra Premiership footy or rookies from the club's Holden Cup and NSW Cup squads.
"It was either last week or this week and I got the thumbs up for this week," Luke said.
"We managed to have a game a couple of years ago up in Whangarei with the Kiwis. I have an aunty up there, so I get to catch up with her.
"I am just going to make sure I get used to the boys, we have a couple of days together before we play and then it's just getting used to our combinations."