Vodafone Warriors managing director Jim Doyle has announced the club’s second major signing coup in a month confirming outstanding Kiwi hooker Issac Luke will join the club on a three-year contract at the end of the 2015 NRL season.
The 27-year-old Luke has been granted a release from the last two years of his South Sydney contract opening the way for him to join several fellow Kiwi internationals at Mount Smart Stadium.
His signing follows last month’s announcement that Kiwi and Sydney Roosters fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck had been secured for three years from the end of the 2015 campaign.
It means the Vodafone Warriors will start 2016 with three of the Kiwis’ spine players from the line-up that accounted for the Kangaroos 26-12 in Sunday’s Anzac Test at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane – Tuivasa-Sheck, Luke and halfback Shaun Johnson.
It was Luke’s 33rd Test since his Kiwi debut in 2008 while he has also played 176 NRL games for South Sydney so far.
“I’ve been away from home for a long time now and I really miss it,” he said.
“I’ve loved playing for the Rabbitohs. They’ve done so much for me but I wanted to go back to New Zealand at some stage and I’m grateful they’ve allowed me to go.
“Going home to play for the Warriors has always been something I wanted to do. I know so many of the boys there and I also like what’s happening at the club since Jim has taken over.”
Doyle said Luke’s signing was one of the most significant in the club’s history.
“On top of signing Roger as well, it’s a fantastic coup for us to secure Issac,” he said.
“We are always looking to bring elite players to our club and in Issac we have signed one of the very best there is.”
Vodafone Warriors head coach Andrew McFadden was elated.
“His arrival at the club will provide a massive lift to our side,” he said.
“With the game getting faster and the prospect of the number of interchanges being reduced, 80-minute hookers have become a real asset. Issac is an exceptional dummy half and he underlined that for the Kiwis in the Anzac Test against the Kangaroos. He was outstanding.
“It’s hugely exciting for us knowing Issac and Roger will on board next year.”
While he missed last year’s NRL grand final through suspension, the Hawera-born Luke was a critical contributor to South Sydney’s first premiership in 43 years.
He has also been as integral performer in the Kiwis’ string of international successes in the last seven years. He was used from the interchange bench in the wins in the Rugby League World Cup final in 2008 and the Four Nations final in 2010 while he started in the Four Nations final win last year and again in Brisbane last Sunday when the Kiwis won their third consecutive Test against the Kangaroos.
Born: May 29, 1987
Birthplace: Hawera, NZ
Junior Club: Hawera Hawks
NRL Debut: South Sydney v Melbourne, Olympic Park, June 02, 2007 (Round 12)
NRL Career: 176 appearances for South Sydney, 2007-2015
NRL Points: 380 (35 tries, 120 goals)
Kiwi No: 749
Test Debut: v Australia, Sydney, 2008
Tests: 33 (2008-2015)
Test Points: 50 (4 tries, 17 goals)