Ruthless Maguire ideal for NZ league: Luke

Daniel Gilhooly
Warriors NRL hooker Issac Luke (pic) says Michael Maguire is a perfect choice to coach New Zealand

Issac Luke's first dealings with Michael Maguire left the veteran NRL hooker almost speechless.

The pair came to know each other well at South Sydney, leaving Luke convinced the New Zealand Rugby League has the right man to coach the Kiwis.

Warriors rake Luke reckons his time under Maguire was the most formative of his career as he rocketed in status, becoming one of the NRL's premier players.

The 2014 premiership-winning season remains a career highlight for Luke but he still hasn't forgotten the spiky first conversation with his soon-to-be coach.

It was a phone chat in late 2011, soon before renowned disciplinarian Maguire started at the Rabbitohs.

The call came after Luke was placed on report for a wrenching tackle on England's Rangi Chase in a Four Nations Test.

"He rang me straight away. I'd never met him and he gave it to me," Luke said.

"I thought I'd better sharpen up my skills.

"He's tough. If anything happens with the Kiwis, I know they'll be in the firing line."

Luke says Maguire played a big part in his transformation as a player and the respect continued through a player-mentor relationship when he left for the Warriors.

"He's had a big part to play in the last six years of my life," Luke said.

"He brought the best out of myself and Greg Inglis - oh, all the boys over there, to be perfectly honest.

"He's definitely going to bring a different attitude (to the Kiwis), a more ruthless attitude."

Former long-serving Kiwi coach Stephen Kearney remembers Maguire's desire to build a togetherness among players when the pair were assistant coaches at Melbourne.

He has followed Maguire's progress closely since and isn't surprised by the results achieved at club level at Wigan and Souths.

"He's very good to work with. He went away to Wigan and was very successful at Wigan for a couple of years," Warriors coach Kearney said.

"He came back and built a really strong culture at South Sydney so I think he'll be very positive here."