Rugby League

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Fairytale end unlikely but Luck just happy to return

TO LEAVE at the top. There are few other scenarios an athlete could want for their finale.

We have seen it before in rugby league, with fairytale finishes for veteran servants such as Steve Menzies, with the 2008 NRL title; and Allan Langer, the hero of the 2002 Origin series.

A consummate professional and well-respected club man, Warriors back-rower Micheal Luck deserves such a send-off to a bruising, hard-knocks career in the first grade. With the Warriors sitting in 13th, it is unlikely he will get it.

Mathematically it is still possible, but with victory against the Cowboys in Townsville, a place the Warriors have not won since 2002, needed tonight, the odds are slim.

Do not expect to hear Luck complaining though - it's not his style.

He has reason to, perhaps, with the 30-year-old managing only two games this year thanks to persistent wrist and shoulder injuries.


But after coming through 80 minutes for the Auckland Vulcans last weekend, Luck is just happy to be in a Warriors jumper again, regardless of how many games he has left, or what the importance of those games will be.

''I can't wait for this month or eight weeks or however long we've got left,'' Luck, who will play reduced minutes tonight, said.

''I want to leave here on a good note and want my final memories to be real positive ones. I suppose it's my job to try and lift the group now and try to make everyone buy into a happy positive, atmosphere and go out on a high.''

The absence of Luck, and the likes of Jerome Ropati and Sam Rapira through injury, have hurt the Warriors' hopes this year.

Younger players, such as the Lousi brothers (Sam and Sione), Ben Henry and Konrad Hurrell, have been forced to fill the void left by injured veterans, meaning the club has dropped some crucial matches through a lack of big-game character.

Ultimately, though, Luck believes the Warriors will reap the rewards of a tough season.

''This year hasn't been ideal but, in a contact sport, that's the cards you're dealt sometimes,'' he said. ''In my time here, in the full-time squads, there's been years when you've got an opportunity to do something because everyone's fit and healthy and you're in good form. That's the times when you've got to step on the gas. Then there's other times, 2009 comes to mind, when we weren't healthy, we weren't in good form, and we struggled.

''I think I'm a better person for coming out the other side of that, and then going on to do successful things in the years after that.

''Whilst it might not seem a positive thing now, I think in years to come there's a lot of guys that have been involved with this year that will be back and see how much they've learnt from it, and how better they've come out the other side.''

A safari trip to Africa looms before Luck really starts to tackle life after football. He is nervous about life without footy, but also excited.

''We've got to meet life head on,'' he said. ''Go and find something to do, without the footy boots on.

''This is the only job I've ever had and, I suppose apart from a few odd jobs here and there when I was young, this is the only source of income I've ever had.

''I'm under no illusions that it's going to be a big change next year, but one that I'm excited about. I'm looking forward to getting into an occupation that doesn't require you to get hurt every weekend.

''You can go day-to-day without being in pain. So it's something I'm looking forward to.''

James Maloney, who injured his right knee in the 45-4 defeat to the Sharks last weekend, travelled with the Warriors to Townsville, and could be a late inclusion.