Stephen Kearney brushes off concerns about Isaac Luke

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sunday, 24 February 2019, 12:25PM
Stephen Kearney says he will meet with Luke next week. (Photo / NZ Herald)
Stephen Kearney says he will meet with Luke next week. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Warriors coach Stephen Kearney is not concerned about the rumours around Issac Luke's future at the club, saying he will meet the Kiwis hooker later this week.

The Sydney Morning Herald speculated on Friday that Parramatta were about to table a lucrative two-year offer for Luke, worth $730,000.

Luke signed a one-year extension to stay at Mt Smart at the end of last season, but on significantly lesser terms that his previous deal and believed to be around $200,000.

Warriors CEO Cameron George confirmed to the Weekend Herald that part of Luke's contract contained a "verbal agreement" with his agent Bruce Sharrock that the 31-year-old would be permitted to consider any longer term offers, as and when they arose, considering the limited nature of the Warriors' deal.

Sharrock declined to comment on the details behind such a clause when contacted by the Herald on Sunday, saying it was a "private employment contract matter".

Kearney, who travelled back from Melbourne yesterday after the Warriors' Friday night 12-6 trial win over the Storm in Geelong, is taking a wait and see approach.

"If I'm honest, until I sit down and talk with him when I get back, I'm not going to speculate," Kearney told the Herald on Sunday. "There's always potential [for anything] though ... that's the way the game is."

Luke, along with all of the other senior players, will come back into the fold for this Saturday's second trial against the Tigers in Whangarei, after most of the younger brigade acquitted themselves well.

The squad contained only three regular first graders from 2018 (Jazz Tevaga, Isaiah Papali'i and Bunty Afoa) but the mix of new recruits, aspiring youngsters and men on the comeback trail did well against a Storm squad including seven players from last year's grand final loss.

"The way they defended was really good," said Kearney. "They applied themselves to the simple parts of the game and withstood what they needed to withstand."

Halves contenders Adam Keighran and Chanel Harris-Tavita both had some bright moments, but still looked more like two rookies trying to find their way.

Keighran kicked well, especially early on while Harris-Tavita showed some nice touches. But Hayze Perham, who slotted into the halves for the second half, overshadowed both of them, especially with his sharp acceleration for the Warriors' second try.

Hooker Nathaniel Roache came through 30 minutes unscathed in his first hit out in almost 18 months, while utility back Patrick Herbert was the best player on the field.