Warriors: All Beards and Luck

Ruben WikiTO UNDERSTAND the rise of the Warriors this season, from impossible to predict to impossible to resist, you have to consider their … facial hair. Really, the beards, more than anything, have proved that few have taken them seriously until now.

It was after the Warriors toppled Melbourne, becoming the first eighth-placed side to beat the minor premiers, when in the middle of the post-match euphoria, captain Steve Price was asked about his beard: “What’s doing with them?”

Truth is, the Warriors have been growing them for three months, as a tribute to their departing prop Ruben Wiki. It’s just taken many this long to notice.

If the Warriors are the team we simply didn’t see coming, Micheal Luck is also the player. His consistency is breathtaking. He rarely has a bad game, and he rarely misses any; since he arrived at the club, he has played 73 of 75 matches.

Tonight, he will play his 150th NRL match. But as he soaked up the hysteria this week of the Warriors’ remarkable rise, and his own quiet achievement, he said the side had not taken offence that only now, 25 matches into their season, suddenly we know he and his side are here.

“We’ve probably had no right to be noticed,” Luck said. “We scraped into the eight in the last week of the regular season. It’s not like we’re a dominant force.

“At times during the year, we were that inconsistent, we probably didn’t have the right for people to take us seriously at all.”

Now we are taking them seriously when they have undertaken a pact that would be pure schoolyard if teenagers had the ability to grow facial hair.

But this bearded Warrior is in no mood to shave. His teammates firmly believe they can march on, while Luck believes last Sunday’s victory over the Storm will be almost “worthless” if they fail to take the opportunity to beat the Roosters tonight.

“It certainly gives us confidence that we didn’t play the perfect game of footy [on Sunday] by any means,” he said. “We were a bit lucky in Melbourne.”

But who needs luck when you’ve got Luck? In many ways, the hard-working lock has been the complete antithesis of his team; while his side has craved consistency, he has not.

But it hasn’t all been this way. As a Cowboy, Luck was up and down like his current side. The difference, he says, is “having a coach that’s got a bit of faith in you … and knowing my role in the side”.

“I was only a young guy there, and young guys feel like that,” Luck said.

“With experience, you learn a bit more, you handle things differently. You grow up a bit, learn a bit more every year.”

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