After being dropped from the Telstra Premiership side last month, Warriors hooker Issac Luke says he feels lucky to have been handed a second chance and is working hard to ensure he doesn't waste it.
Following a run of four straight losses, Luke was left out of coach Stephen Kearney's squad for the NRL Magic Round win over the Dragons but returned the following week in place of the injured Nathaniel Roache.
Luke said had it not been for that, there's every chance he would be lining up in reserve grade this week rather than preparing to face top-of-the-table Melbourne on Saturday.
"It's probably a bit luck of the draw because Nate is injured, but I'm trying to force my way back in there and to keep myself there," Luke said.
"It was tough [being dropped]… [but Stephen] gave me another crack, so I was pretty happy with that and I was able to play well.
"I've played  games now and I'm still learning, even without Steve having to talk to me about certain things.
"He gave me some focus points during training and then [points] to execute in the game.
"He's been happy with it so far, so I've just got to keep making him happy and giving me a chance to play every week."
Warriors v Storm - Round 13
Kearney said Luke's situation, and the dropping of veteran forward Adam Blair earlier in the year, served as reminder to the whole squad that nobody was guaranteed a place in his 17.
"I think it's an awareness for everybody," Kearney said.
"We had [Blair] who is a representative player approaching 300 games and he had to go back and play reserve grade.
"Issac, it was fortunate in his favour that Nate was out the week prior to the Panthers game and that gave Issac an opportunity.
"Sometimes that's what it takes, a bit of a kick in the backside to get yourself going again.
"The last couple of games there has been an improvement [in Issac].
"With Issac a real strength of his is his running game, and I thought prior to [being dropped] it wasn't quite at the level we expect from him, and that he expects from himself.
"I thought he was pretty good when we went to Penrith [in round 10] and I thought he was OK against the Broncos again [the following week].
"He's been able to get a bit of consistency about his game."
Kearney models Warriors on Storm
Against the Storm at Mount Smart Stadium, Luke will share the dummy-half duties with Karl Lawton for the third game in a row, with Roache not considered for selection after experiencing delays in his recovery from a corked muscle in his back.
Meanwhile Kearney said fellow dummy-half option Jazz Tevaga is on track to return ahead of schedule after suffering a high ankle sprain against Brisbane.
"Nate's back is coming along OK. There was a personal issue he needed a bit of time to get over, so that hampered his recovery and he needed a few days off," Kearney said.
"Jazz looks like he will be available for the Titans game."