NRL 2020: NZ Warriors great Michael Luck urges club to use own Kiwi talent over using retired players

Former NZ Warriors great Michael Luck feels the club should not look to former greats to fill spots in their injury-plagued roster ahead of the NRL season restart. 

The Warriors' forward stocks are very thin as they prepare to face the St George Illawarra Dragons after losing prop Leeson Ah Mau (pectoral) and lock Jazz Tevaga (knee) to after training mishaps last weekend, adding to an injury toll that already saw Bunty Afoa and Jackson Frei (both ACL) gone for the season.

Their only acquisition to date to offset those losses is former Canberra Raiders forward Jack Murchie, but the Penrose-based side would still like to bring more players in.

The NRL has denied the Warriors the ability to loan players in from other teams, although chief executive Cameron George is asking them to reconsider. 

A host of former players and NRL champions including Paul Gallen, Billy Slater and Sam Thiday have put their hands up to come out of retirement, but Luck feels the Warriors shouldn't take them up on the opportunity. 

Luck, who is the chief operating officer at the North Queensland Cowboys, believes the better option is to use young players in their system and give them first-grade experience. 

"I think the Warriors have enough good young talent in their system," Luck told Newshub. 

"I'd prefer the Warriors to use their own Kiwi-based talent and maybe look externally for short-term fixes.

Tom Ale will likely make his NRL debut in 2020 due to the Warriors' front-row crisis.
Tom Ale will likely make his NRL debut in 2020 due to the Warriors' front-row crisis. Photo credit: Photosport

"It's an interesting situation, but if the shoe was on the other foot, I'd prefer to have our own guys get the opportunity to impress and play some good footy."

With the signing of Murchie, the Warriors have 26 fully fit players to choose from although many of the players have little to no NRL experience and might not be ready to play in rugby league's biggest competition. 

Any extra New Zealand-based players the Warriors call upon during the season might not be allowed to travel to Australia due to current restrictions, and if they get the green light, will have to go into quarantine for two weeks making it even more difficult. 

Luck spent the majority of his career at the Warriors, where he played in 150 games over seven years, while winning the club Player of the Year award in 2009. He also played in the 2011 Grand Final, where they lost to the Manly Sea Eagles. 

The 38-year-old is always proud to say he once played for the Warriors, and that has only increased after seeing some of the sacrifices they've made in 2020.

"The Warriors have made the most sacrifice out of any team in the competitions and maybe the world, Luck added. 

"What they've done is extraordinary and what they've given up. Everyone in the country would take their hat off to Stephen Kearney. 

"That round two game against the Raiders on the Gold Coast, it hit home for me for how proud I am to call myself a Warriors old boy. 

"I've never missed a Warriors game since I stopped playing. The club will always be a big part of who I am and where I am now.

"There will always be gratitude towards them." 

The Warriors face the Cowboys at Central Coast Stadium on Friday, June 12. 

NRL 2020: NZ Warriors great Michael Luck urges club to use own Kiwi talent over using retired players
Contact Newshub with your story tips:
news@newshub.co.nz