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Feisty South Sydney Rabbitohs hooker Issac Luke fights to go the distance

Rsag85

Rsag85

Issac Luke in action for the Rabbitohs against the Roosters last Thursday night. Source: Getty Images

A RIGOROUS off-season program has been designed to turn South Sydney hooker Issac Luke into an 80-minute match-winner.

The New Zealand Test dummy-half played an average of 68 minutes a game last year and is now pushing to last the distance, which would see back-up Nathan Peats shuffled exclusively into a back-row role.

Standing alongside Greg Inglis and Sam Burgess as one of the club's key strike weapons, there is no doubt the Rabbitohs lose impact when Luke is off the field.

The 25-year-old made 75 tackle busts last year and led the team in off-loads and line-break assists. But he only played the full 80 minutes on 11 occasions.

There were times when rookie coach Michael Maguire started the game with Peats and kept Luke on the bench.

Is Issac Luke in your SuperCoach team?

Luke spent the off-season doing extra fitness sessions with Sutherland-based boxing trainer Losh Matthews in a bid to improve his endurance and has also studied countless hours of video footage to improve his effectiveness on the field.

Following the Rabbitohs' comprehensive season opening win against arch-rivals the Roosters, Maguire confirmed the explosive playmaker was attempting to become a full-match player. If that happens, the Rabbitohs will be even more threatening than last season.

"It is definitely a goal of Issac's, that he wants to become an 80-minute player," Maguire said.

"He has been working extremely hard on his fitness and his body so he is capable of handling the full game."

Maguire also said he had been working with Luke to help him make better decisions on the field, which would improve his endurance by measuring his efforts. He has been told to be more selective with his running to save some gas.

"He has also been looking at the way he plays," Maguire said. "In attack, he often ran a lot when he probably could have utilised the players around him.

"He is looking at what he does on the field and ways to do it more effectively."

Boxing trainer Matthews, who has worked with several rugby league stars, said Luke was the fittest he has ever been after twice-a-week sparring sessions during the off-season.

Matthews prepared Luke for an off-season bout at the "Fight for Like" charity boxing card in New Zealand where he made easy work of former All Black Christian Cullen.

"He has been working extremely hard," Matthews said.

"He comes to the gym whenever he can and is the most dedicated he has ever been.

"It is not just his fitness but also his decision making that has improved. His uncle (John Crean) trains with me at my gym and has commented on the change in his attitude.

"He has no doubt he is both a better athlete and a better person. He is now able to respond under pressure and be able to react and make things happen."

The move would force Peats to play off the bench as a utility, with the up-and-comer capable off playing several positions.

He remains firmly in Maguire's future plans.

The Rabbitohs will look to build on their victory over the Roosters when they take on the Cronulla Sharks at ANZ Stadium next Monday. 
professional

professional

I think a read a story similar to this back in 2010. And 2011. And 2012. 
Rsag85

Rsag85

80 min Issac is want we need, it work on Thursday night 
Doyen

Doyen

Madge has changed Issac's game, as I said recently.
He is not running every second time he gets the ball--he is being more selective in what he does--more Peat's-like!!
No more running around like a chook with its head cut off.
He has been asked to slow down,save some gas.To be more effective.
Because of this approach he will be able to go 80 mins & be better under pressure.No more stupid mistakes!!
He was a very different Issac the other night.
In the past he couldn't play a reliable 80 mins.
If Issac paces himself like the other night he can go 80.
And if you can believe that article,Peats is very much in Madge's plans!! 
Rsag85

Rsag85

A 80min Issac is what the team needs, Peats should get use to playing in the 2nd row from now on. 
Doyen

Doyen

All Issac has to do is play as instructed by MADGE.
Madge has very obviously pulled him aside & told him to change his approach.
This was blatantly obvious the other night!!Completely different style by Issac! 

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