Warriors rally around Roache as Luke looks to reclaim spot

After suffering his third season-ending injury in as many years, Nathaniel Roache has spent little time feeling sorry for himself and according to teammates, has already turned his attention to the road to recovery.

Roache broke down with an anterior cruciate ligament injury in his left knee in last Sunday's 19-18 golden point loss to the Penrith Panthers and is expected to be out of action for six to nine months.

It is the latest in a long list of injury blows for Roache, coming after he tore his Achilles in 2017 and missed all of last year due to back surgery.

Teammate Lachlan Burr told NRL.com the team would continue to rally around Roache in the coming weeks and said the 23-year-old was putting on a brave face.

"I'm pretty sure he was thinking straight away about his rehab," Burr said.

"I think he's getting surgery in the next week or so and then the club are looking forward to getting him back for the pre-season.

"He was at training [Wednesday] and I had a quick chat to him. He's in pretty high spirits and he's a pretty positive kid as it is.

"Just getting around him [is what we can do]. I'll be going to see him in hospital.

"He's got Sam Lisone and Jazz Tevaga with him there, they are two of his best mates, and he has got a lot of close friends at the club. He is surrounded by the right people and everybody knows what he is going through.

"It happens, everyone has their turn in rugby league, it's the nature of the beast really."

The loss of Roache has opened the door for veteran rake Issac Luke to return to the Telstra Premiership team for Saturday's match against Newcastle at McDonald Jones Stadium, after being dropped last week.

Luke was a standout in the Warriors' Canterbury Cup win over North Sydney, running for more than 100 metres, scoring a try and making two line breaks. He will come off the interchange this week with Karl Lawton again named to start at hooker.

Burr said while the circumstances surrounding Luke's return were unfortunate, he deserved to be back in the NRL team.

"I think Issac got man of the match for the reserve grade on the weekend, so he deserves his spot back in the team and is playing some good footy," Burr told NRL.com.

"I am sure he will be ready to go this weekend. I think he is building for a big game this week and wants to prove he deserves to be there."

The return of Luke for Roache, and Burr in place of Leivaha Pulu, are the only changes to the Warriors' 17 following the Penrith loss, although coach Stephen Kearney this week called on mid-season recruit Kodi Nikorima to do more in games.

After making a strong start to life in Auckland following his move from the Broncos in May, he struggled to make an impact in attack last week and Kearney is keen to see him running the ball more often.

Warriors hooker Issac Luke.
Warriors hooker Issac Luke. ©NRL Photos

"I think he's hurting, he knows he could have been a lot better on Sunday," Kearney said of Nikorima.

"It's what I expect from all of them each week, it's about executing their job and getting their job done on the field, and we know Kodi can provide us with a great deal of threat when he carries the footy, when he runs the footy.

"I want him to do that consistently for the 80 minutes."