New NZ hooker Isaac Luke bleary-eyed

Kiwis rugby league debutant Issac Luke didn't sleep much in his Sydney beachside hotel room on Monday night.

Not only was he confirmed as the starting hooker for the Centenary Test against the Kangaroos on Friday, but his former partner Kendra called to say she'd given birth to their son, Cruze Zinzan.

Luke, 20, and his Kiwis teammates had just devoured a traditional hangi laid on by local Maori at their hotel when the call came just after 8pm from Sydney's western suburbs.

"(Kendra) told me `he's here'. She said he looked exactly like me. I said `cool, send me a picture'," Luke said.

"I couldn't sleep properly and hopefully I can see him soon. Preferably after the game, I just want to concentrate on the game at the moment. I think she'd want me too as well.

"When he got older and I told (Cruze) I missed training because of him he'd probably get angry at me."

It is Luke's second son, a brother for Adaquix Jeremiah, who lives in Brisbane.

Luke expects both will be at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Friday night for their dad's Kiwis debut.

Four generations of the Luke family will be present, with his South Sydney club flying over his grandmother Bluey Tamou from Hawera for the occasion.

"She paid my way down to Wellington when I played down there (in 2003-04) and I always heard her calling out from the crowd," Luke said.

"I reckon I'll hear her on Friday for sure.

"My grandmother means the world to me, just as much as my mum and dad.

"I've got two more important people in my life now and that's my two boys, I've got them in my head and my heart."

Luke was stunned by his Test call-up, having thought the World Cup in October a realistic ambition.

But his form for South Sydney impressed coach Stephen Kearney, who named him ahead of the more experienced Dene Halatau in the No 9 jersey.

"It's something a lot of the whanau (family) back home and the boys I played with, we all strive to become a Kiwi and even to play NRL. It is a dream come true," Luke said.

The 1.74m, 80kg Luke was signed by the Bulldogs from Wellington in 2004 then joined Souths in 2006.

Melbourne Storm hooker and current Kangaroos captain Cameron Smith was always Luke's role model and will be eyeballing him at the first scrum on Friday.

"I played him in my NRL debut. Even in the scrum I was staring at him thinking `he's the man, he's the man'," Luke recalled.

"It'll just be another game but at a higher intensity, and a lot faster.

"He's the best player and I try to just model my game on him, but he comes out with freakish things. I can't do that yet."

Not only will Luke be required to pinch yardage from dummy half, spark up the Kiwis ball runners and employ his fearless tackling, he may also be called on to kick goals.

Kearney said Luke, fullback Brent Webb and bench forward Jeremy Smith were contenders but he would not hesitate to hand Luke the kicking tee.

"It's all about confidence and being able to do the right things. It was something I added to my game to become a first-grader and stay there," said Luke, who learned the trade from his Souths coach Jason Taylor.

"If (Kearney) gives me the call to kick, I'll have to do it. Rabbitohs is different, playing for the Kiwis you don't want to miss."

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