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Rabbitoh rings true: Retiring Luke happy for Api but backing Bunnies

Last year before Api Koroisau lined up for his second grand final appearance, he spoke of how it felt like his first even though he had already lined up in a title decider.

The Panthers hooker is the only player in the current line-up who has experienced winning a title, coincidentally at Souths and this Sunday he will line up against some of his former premiership-winning mates.

Koroisau featured for the Rabbitohs against Canterbury in 2014 alongside Adam Reynolds, Alex Johnston and Tom Burgess.

His call-up to the starting 17 came after Issac Luke was suspended for a lifting tackle in the preliminary final.

Luke, who was representing the Rabbitohs during a media event during grand final week in Brisbane on Wednesday, said he would keep one eye on his former hooker understudy.

"In the lead-up to the grand final last year he spoke about how the 2014 grand final was mine and not his," Luke told NRL.com.

Ex-Rabbitohs duo Ethan Lowe and Issac Luke.
Ex-Rabbitohs duo Ethan Lowe and Issac Luke. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

"I texted him when I heard that and said to 'never say that to anyone else again'. He's one kid that I call my little brother and he gets another chance at a grand final. He should never have seen it that way."

The story of former coach Michael Maguire handing Luke his own premiership ring has been told many times but the former Rabbitohs rake said a few other details had been missed along the way.

He had up to six Rabbitohs players who took the field that night offered him their premiership ring, including their captain, one-club stalwart John Sutton.

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"And I just replied to every one of them, 'don't be stupid'," he laughed.

"But once Madge [Maguire] gave me his it was different, he spoke to me about why.

"It got me thinking about Cam McInnes. Api and I got a ring but I wanted Cam to walk away with something.

"Because, throughout that 2014 year, Api, Cam and myself all had a big part in how the boys went around the ruck.

"We all had played a part in that year and had an influence on the side.

"Api wore another jersey that night so they gave me the No.9 jersey to keep but I passed it onto Cam.

"They were both always going to kick on, I was happy to see that. Api has done well going back and forth to Penrith.

"And Cam at the Sharks, I'm wishing him all the best for that too."

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Luke, who played 188 games for the Rabbitohs between 2007-2015, will be officially farewelled by the NRL on Sunday after announcing his retirement from rugby league earlier this month.

The 34-year-old wanted to call it quits last year until the Broncos were eager to sign him on a train and trial deal in the pre-season. It didn't work out.

He will run out for Wynnum Manly in Sunday's Intrust Super Cup preliminary final prior to the NRL decider.

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"The icing on the cake is to celebrate my retirement and watch the Bunnies hopefully take out the premiership this year," he said.

"I have always loved the club and the fans. It will be a nice way to finish."

Former Rabbitohs back-rower Ethan Lowe, who medically retired with a neck injury last year, was backing his old teammates to get the job done against Penrith on Sunday.

"In a week like this you probably wish you weren't retired but it was just one of those things I couldn't control," Lowe said.

"It's been hard at times but I'm enjoying life after footy and I've been lucky enough to stay involved with Souths on a full-time basis in Queensland so it's been great.

"The last 3-4 years the boys have been close to a title so for them to get there this year I couldn't be happier for them."