Luke the Bunny in the headlights - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Luke the Bunny in the headlights

By Todd Balym 13/03/2008 11:07:12 PM Comments (0)

Forget Craig Wing, inexperienced hooker Issac Luke is the South Sydney player with the biggest target on his head in Friday's night's NRL opener against the Sydney Roosters.

While Wing is expecting a torrid opening to his first NRL game against his former employers, it is 20-year-old 14-gamer Luke who will be most tested by the fired-up Roosters pack.

"Issac Luke is a massive danger," said Roosters five-eighth Braith Anasta.

"He's been jumping out of dummy half and playing some great football for them and causing lots of trouble. We know he is a player with a lot of ability.

"We know how good Wingy can play. If Wingy gets on a roll he'll be hard to contain too."

Rabbitohs coach Jason Taylor knows Luke will be a marked man in 2008, but he doesn't anticipate any second-year syndrome for the young Kiwi as he moves into a starting role for the first time.

"He knows teams are going to be gunning for him, we're trying to give him more options in the way we're going to play," said Taylor.

"We've worked really hard with Issac and what his role is in the team ... and the signs in the trials are he is in for a really big season.

"When you talk second year being a problem, I don't think his season last year was that absolutely amazing that he's in danger of thinking this is easy.

"He wants to get a lot better. He wants to play more time on the field and he is still working hard on getting to where he wants to be."

The Roosters will start $1.80 favourites for the clash, with the Rabbitohs at $2.

In the corresponding clash last year the new-look Bunnies surprised the Roosters with 18-6 victory, but Taylor says the Roosters under-estimated his side and won't make the same mistake twice.

"We won that game and probably caught them unaware," he said.

"I think these two teams have played in round one for a few years now and a few years ago it was most of time a bit of a mismatch because the Roosters were so strong and Souths were struggling.

"We both know it's two strong teams going head to head, whereas last year even though we thought it was, they may not have and took us a bit lightly."

So confident is Taylor heading into round one, that he's allowed his players to get involved in pre-game banter with the Roosters.

It's a huge change to last year when he shielded the players from hype because of their inexperience.

"This time last year I was concerned about how much was in the media as to how the Rabbitohs went and particularly the fiery nature of some stuff," he said.

"I didn't think we were ready for that as a group.

"Last year I was concerned about stuff like that because all that does at times is make the opposition want to beat you more.

"We're really comfortable with where we're at now and know the Roosters will have to play extremely well to beat us tomorrow night."

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