QUICK RECOVERY: Warriors hooker Issac Luke.
QUICK RECOVERY: Warriors hooker Issac Luke. DAVID ROWLAND

Luke could be back for Warriors after surgery

WARRIORS hooker Issac Luke may make a shock early return from injury in tomorrow's NRL clash with Wests Tigers as both sides fight to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Luke has missed the Warriors' past three games after arthroscopic surgery earlier this month on his right knee injured in the round 21 win over Penrith.

The 29-year-old Kiwi international had a short recovery and resumed light running last week, but was not expected to play until next week's final round against Parramatta.

Rookie hooker Nathaniel Roache was named to start in the nine jersey for the second week in a row on Tuesday, but sources revealed Luke would be given every chance to run out on to Mt Smart Stadium, pending medical clearances in the next 24 hours.

With the Warriors sitting precariously in ninth position on the NRL ladder and their finals hopes hanging by a thread, the former South Sydney premiership winner's presence would be a tremendous boost to the side, coming off consecutive losses to the Rabbitohs and Cowboys.

In his absence, coach Andrew McFadden employed Jazz Tevaga and fellow 20-year-old Roache to share the dummy half duties, with the former starting and the latter coming off the bench in both the round 22 win over Gold Coast and the following week's loss to the Rabbitohs.

That experiment was ditched last week for the trip to Townsville, but the Warriors were caught out when a hamstring injury to Ken Maumalo forced changes.

Roache was pushed out wide for a stint, while five-eighth Thomas Leuluai jumped into the hooking role. Leuluai said it would be good to have Luke back.

"No disrespect to the guys that have come in for him but he's a class player and you notice the difference,” he said.

"The young boys have done a great job and will continue to get better but a guy of Issac's calibre is invaluable.”

McFadden said he would be watching tomorrow night's match between Gold Coast and Penrith, with the playoff hopes of both the Warriors and 10th-placed Wests Tigers hanging on the Titans dropping their last two games.

APNZ



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