Isaac Luke could be rushed into the Rabbitohs' starting side. Photo: Brendan Esposito
South Sydney coach Michael Maguire is set to restore hooker Issac Luke to his starting side for tomorrow night's semi-final against Canberra at ANZ Stadium.
Fairfax understands Luke will start against the Raiders, after being benched for the past two matches in the wake of a demotion to NSW Cup due to off-field ill-discipline as well as a drop in form. The man who has started in place of Luke, Nathan Peats, will likely drop to the bench.
Maguire has been under pressure to start Luke, considered one of his key attacking weapons when he is in good form.
The coach is not one to bow to pressure but it appears he has decided that the Rabbitohs need his go-forward from the outset.
Asked yesterday about the prospect of Luke starting, Maguire said: ''We're making decisions for the team and what's right for the team. That's all in front of us, those decisions.''
Pressed later by about the suggestions that he had already pledged to start Luke, Maguire told said: ''I am deciding the team [today].''
The selection quandary around Luke has been one of Maguire's more pressing concerns this week, yet it is not his only one.
With centre Matt King being sidelined for the rest of the season with a broken arm, suffered in the qualifying final loss to Melbourne last Saturday night, Maguire named winger Andrew Everingham to replace him.
Yet Maguire still has other options from the interchange bench, namely Chris McQueen, a second-rower who has played in the centres, as well as Shaune Corrigan.
''We're always looking at our squad and I am always doing the right thing by the team,'' Maguire said.
''I am always talking to our senior players and we're focussed [on] making sure we get the best team on the park. I am very lucky I have a big squad. Everyone is very keen to get out there. We will decide exactly how we're going to go [today].''
Maguire did rule out the prospect of fullback Greg Inglis being shifted back to the centres.
''GI [Inglis] has played fullback for us and that's where he's staying,'' Maguire said.
It appears, too, that winger Nathan Merritt will be staying, despite suffering a shoulder injury against the Storm.
Maguire said Merritt would ''definitely be playing'' against the Raiders.