Kiwis hooker: 'I tried to break his leg'

LIAM NAPIER
Last updated 05:00 20/11/2011
Issac Luke
Photosport
BAD BOY: Kiwis hooker Issac Luke has revealed he deliberately tried to break cousin Rangi Chase's leg during last weekend's Four Nations loss to England.

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As he prepares to step into the ring with All Blacks legend Christian Cullen in next month's Fight for Life, controversial Kiwis hooker Issac Luke has done little to dispel his "bad boy" reputation after revealing he deliberately tried to break cousin Rangi Chase's leg during last weekend's Four Nations loss to England.

Luke arrived home to Sydney this week after a Four Nations campaign in the United Kingdom that was as much a personal disaster for him as it was for the Kiwis, who, as defending champions, disappointingly failed to make this year's decider.

Throughout the tournament, the Rabbitohs No9 found himself under fire for not only his dangerous cannonball style tackling technique but also for the now-infamous leg wrench he inflicted on England playmaker Chase just before half-time in Hull last weekend.

He was subsequently handed a two-match ban for the dirty move and routinely criticised by rivals and officials, former England star Keith Senior going so far as to label him a "germ".

One week on from that incident in Hull, Luke has revealed that it was Chase's decision to switch allegiance from New Zealand to England that pushed him over the edge and saw him attempt to blatantly impair his own family member.

Before the test, the Kiwis spoke of targeting Chase. They wanted retribution – to serve a reminder of his heritage. Luke took it on himself to dish out that punishment and in a throwback to the dirty days of rugby league he wanted blood shed.

He has since apologised to Chase – a junior league team-mate from Taranaki who was seen in the Kiwis dressing room afterwards – and regrets the moment of madness which could have put his cousin on crutches.

"I just saw red. A lot of the legends who played in the black and white jersey, they wanted blood. I know Rubes [assistant coach Ruben Wiki] wanted blood," Luke told Sunday News yesterday.

"I guess that's the mentality us young ones have taken on board. We had a talk the night before about what the jersey meant and that must have come out.

"When you come up against your family you want to outplay them. I didn't outplay him. I tried to break his leg. It was the wrong thing to do. Now I see that. At the time I didn't. After the game I said sorry. He said `it stays on the field'." Luke, 24, doesn't feel betrayed but couldn't accept that Chase was the English enemy.

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Having long envisioned playing alongside him in the black jersey, Luke wanted retribution at any cost. The consequences of his actions were lost in the heat of battle.

"I've got to try and control my aggression rather than try to break everyone. I'm regretting it but I can't take it back. I need to wipe all that stuff out of my game," he said.

"He had to do what's best for him. I should have seen that but I didn't. When I played against him it was different. It felt wrong."

Only time will quell Luke's bad boy image. Off the field, to those close to him, he is cheeky and outwardly humble. But Luke realises his recent actions have tarnished his image.

"I don't like that dirty name. It's not what I am," he said. "But from the outside looking in I probably would have said the same.

"I accept everything that gets thrown at me. The only way to fix that is to try and tidy it up."

Thankfully, Luke's league ban won't prevent him squaring off against Cullen next month.

Unlike many others, he had no hesitation when promoter David Higgins offered the intriguing fight. And, luckily, no one tried to talk him out of it, despite the on-field controversy.

Two busloads of Luke's family and two tables of Warriors' players will attend the event, which raises funds for the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

Luke admits he's putting his reputation on the line.

"I'd be given stick for the rest of my life if I got knocked out by Christian Cullen.

"I better front up. A bit of aggression will go a long way."

- Sunday News

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