Luke out to inspire NRL battlers Brisbane

Laine Clark
Mid-season signing, veteran No.9 Issac Luke, says he can help Brisbane to turn around their NRL form

Becoming the next Steve Renouf didn't quite work out for nuggety hooker Issac Luke.

But the former Kiwi international is still hoping to follow in his childhood hero's footsteps and help Brisbane to become a NRL title contender.

These days, it's hard to imagine the pint-sized, 33-year-old No.9 as a star centre.

However, that was Luke's dream growing up after his family in New Zealand became honorary Queenslanders thanks to his Wally Lewis-loving dad.

Back then, Luke getting into fist fights defending the Maroons' honour at school was about as common as seeing the budding Broncos' fan running around wearing Renouf's trademark headgear in junior footy.

He was just as passionate about the Broncos, vowing to play for them one day after becoming obsessed with the premiership-winning centre known as "the Pearl".

"Steve Renouf was one of my favourite players and I used to love watching him and all his games, " Luke said.

"My dad was a Wally Lewis fan and it just transpired that we were Queensland supporters and waited up until 10pm to watch the Origin ... I even had fights about NSW and Queensland.

"I'd go to school and one side was Queensland and one was NSW.

"Over home (New Zealand), there were a lot of kids that had dreams ... and my dream was to end up here (Broncos)."

In his 14th NRL season, Luke finally had his wish when he signed with the Broncos for the rest of 2020 and making his club debut in last round's 27-6 loss to Newcastle.

While he admits he gets "star struck" around Broncos assistant and ex-captain Allan Langer at training, Luke is focused on helping to reverse his new club's fortunes.

A Brisbane premiership seems as unlikely as Luke emulating Renouf after slumping to four-straight losses ahead of Saturday's derby with Gold Coast.

But Luke on Tuesday was convinced it could be achieved after rekindling more fond memories, this time at former club South Sydney.

Luke said Brisbane's position was very similar to the dark days at the Rabbitohs, where he began his career in 2007 before celebrating their drought-breaking title seven years later.

"I guess that is why they picked up (my) experience. I've been in the (rebuilding) position before," he said.

"When Madge (Michael Maguire) came in (South Sydney) in 2012, he changed the whole franchise - I know that is what Seibs (Brisbane coach Anthony Seibold) is trying to do here.

"It may take time. It is not just going to happen."

But asked if the Broncos had the squad to win the premiership, Luke said: "For sure, and sooner rather than later - hopefully, I am part of it."