Warriors fans’ prayers have been answered with Issac Luke revealing he has penned a one-year extension with the club.
Luke took to Twitter on Wednesday afternoon to announce the news, which had been widely anticipated after the Newcastle Knights reportedly withdrew their two-season offer to the 31-year-old.
Wasssssup my @NZWarriors whanau. I have resigned with the club for 1 more year and hopefully get another couple years out with them. Thanks for the support during this year. My time here isn’t done. ‘YET’ looking forward to seeing you all next year. Lesssssgoooooo🔥🔥
— issac luke (@issacluke_14) October 2, 2018
The Warriors confirmed the coup a short time later.
“It’s good to have the contract all sorted out,” Luke told Warriors media.
“We always wanted to stay in New Zealand, my wife and the kids. I’m really happy here at the club and I’m pleased I have another season with the boys.”
Warriors coach Stephen Kearney hailed the announcement – particularly after it appeared Luke was lost to the club.
“We wanted Issac to stay. It was just a matter of sorting out the details,” Kearney said.
“Now we look forward to him making a big contribution to the side next season.”
— Vodafone Warriors (@NZWarriors) October 3, 2018
Salary-cap constraints meant the Warriors could only offer Luke an extension for 2019 on a heavily reduced deal. The Knights were initially prepared to sign Luke for two years for more money, before getting cold feet due to concerns over Luke’s upcoming shoulder surgery.
Newcastle has turned its attention to chasing Cronulla dummy-half James Segeyaro.
Luke is set to go under the knife to rectify a shoulder issue he carried throughout the 2018 season, which ruled him out of Kiwis contention and could see him racing the clock to play in Round 1 next year.
But after a magnificent campaign – arguably the best of Luke’s 12-season NRL career – Warriors supporters demanded the club re-sign him.
— NRL (@NRL) July 15, 2018
Dynamic in attack, a workhorse in defence and brilliantly consistent across 23 appearances, Luke would have been a shoe-in for the Warriors’ Player of the Year award if not for Roger Tuivasa-Sheck’s stunning season.
Luke finished second to Tuivasa-Sheck in This Warriors Life’s Player of the Year standings, while he was equal-seventh in the Dally M Medal (also won by RTS) and narrowly missed out on the Hooker of the Year gong to Damien Cook. Left out of New Zealand’s World Cup squad after subpar 2017 season at NRL level, Luke was recalled by the Kiwis midyear and made his 43rd Test appearance in Denver.
He also finished as the runner-up in the Solo Try of the Year and Clutch Play of the Year categories in TWL‘s end-of-season awards.
The popular retention of Luke will allow Kearney to bring heir apparent Nathaniel Roache along at a more comfortable pace, most likely as a bench utility who can cover most positions but also give Luke a break without the Warriors losing their dummy-half punch.
While former Gold Coast utility Karl Lawton showed real promise when he filled in for Luke during 2018, lionhearted middle forward Jazz Tevaga, the Dally M Interchange Player of the Year, proved a below-par hooker option when forced into the role.
Roache was expected to challenge the previously out-of-sorts Luke for the No.9 jumper at the start of 2018 but a back injury rubbed the highly-rated 22-year-old out for the entire season.
Luke, who debuted for South Sydney in 2007, will add to his total of 254 NRL games and 66 appearances for the Warriors.