New Zealand hooker Issac Luke.

Denver Test may be the last for Issac Luke

Issac Luke attended World Cup matches after being overlooked for Kiwis selection because his son, Adaquix, was a ball boy but after fighting his way back into the New Zealand team he revealed the Denver Test may be his last because of the impending birth of another child.

Luke, who will lead the Kiwis on to Mile High Stadium and be unofficial captain against England on Saturday (Sunday, 6pm AEST) said he was unsure if he would be available for New Zealand's end-of-season tour to England and France.

"We're expecting another baby, so I have probably got to let the young fellas take over," Luke said.

"I'm just trying to get as many Tests as I can. It was a bit unfortunate last year but I'm just happy to be here at a special stadium. It's pretty cool."

Off-contract with the Warriors, Luke will need to take a pay cut for the club to be able to accommodate him in their 2019 salary cap and he indicated that he would consider offers to play in Super League.

"I don't know what is going on, I am leaving my manager do all of that," he said.

New Zealand hooker Issac Luke.
New Zealand hooker Issac Luke. ©www.photosport.nz

The 31-year-old hooker is happy to re-unite with new Kiwis coach Michael Maguire, who gave him his Telstra Premiership ring after he missed South Sydney's 2014 grand final win due to suspension.

Luke, who will lead the haka in his 38th Test, was also forced to watch on as New Zealand was bundled out of the World Cup in the quarter-finals following back-to-back losses to Tonga and Fiji.

However, he holds no ill feeling over his selection snub and publicly endorsed Brandon Smith and Danny Levi on social media as future New Zealand hookers after they were selected last year.

"My son was the ball boy so I ended up going to most games at the World Cup," Luke said. "The Samoa-Tonga game was a doozey. In saying that I was supporting the boys."

The Kiwis had their final training session ahead of the historic Test on Friday at Mile High Stadium and were impressed when they arrived to see rugby league posts erected on the revered NFL field.

Denver Broncos long snapper Casey Kreiter, whose father played has a rugby union background, was on hand to watch training and said he was hoping to bring some of his teammates to the game on Saturday.

"I've always really wanted to get involved in it. I think there are a lot of similarities to American football," Kreiter said.

"We watch hit clips, big collisions that get guys juiced up, and a lot of them are rugby and Australian football clips of these guys without pads on running into each other at high speeds."

Asked about the impact altitude would have on the kicking games of the two teams, he said: "Everyone says you are going to kick the ball further and higher and it's true but it comes down just as fast as it goes up, so just be ready for that".

Luke is expected to do the goal kicking for New Zealand, although Maguire also has the option of rookie centre Esan Marsters or winger Jamayne Isaako.

"A few of the boys had some kicks out there and they were getting some distance," Maguire said. "There was a bit of wind around so you might see a 70-metre goal."

With shorter in-goals than the NRL, he also predicted kicking in general play would be more aerial than grubbers on the ground.

"When you roll the ball in it just keeps going so I reckon there will be a bit of entertainment in the air and a few cross kicks for tries," he said. "We have got a couple of tall guys so we will be having a go."

Maguire also said the Kiwis would try to play an entertaining brand of football under his coaching.

"We have got a simple style but we have got a few things up our sleeve that we want to try," he said.

"The boys put a fair but of effort during the week into coming up with some plays they want to put on so we are looking forward to making sure we build a bit of pressure around the game first and then they will come out as we go.

"The players want to shift the ball around but we obviously need to earn the right to do that. We realise that it is a Test match, it is very important to the people back in New Zealand and all the Kiwis around the world."

 

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