Souths hooker Issac Luke has joined some of the rugby league’s biggest names in being suspended for the biggest game of the year.
Devastated South Sydney hooker Issac Luke has joined some of rugby league’s greatest names in enduring the heartbreak of missing out on a grand final through suspension.
After the NRL judiciary upheld Luke’s ban for a dangerous throw on Sydney Roosters forward Sonny Bill Williams on Tuesday night, the Kiwi rake will become the 12th player to be banned for a premiership decider.
Luke joins the likes of Arthur Beetson, Steve Roach and Cameron Smith to be rubbed out of a grand final.
Rugby league Immortal Beetson was the first player to suffer the hurt and frustration of missing out on a decider, when he missed out on Balmain’s upset win over South Sydney in 1969.
Big Artie was outed after being hit with a two-match ban after being sent off in the Tigers’ loss to Souths in the major semi-final.
Beetson shed tears over his omission and later described his retaliatory punch on Ron Coote, after a head butt from the Souths forward, which led to his dismissal after five cautions in a spiteful contest, as his biggest regret.
Luckily for Beetson, he went on to win back-back premierships with Eastern Suburbs in 1974 and 1975.
Former Test prop Steve Roach is another infamous grand final omission.
In a bid to beat a ban for a high tackle on Canterbury centre Chris Mortimer, the Balmain legend flew to England in an attempt to serve the games for Warrington and then return to Sydney for the grand final, eventually won by Canterbury.
But NSWRL officials wouldn’t allow the move and Roach was forced to listen to the game on radio, 17,000km away.
Melbourne skipper Cameron Smith was the most recent player to be sidelined through suspension on the final game of the season in 2008, as the Storm were thrashed 40-0 by Manly.
Smith also took his case to the judiciary but it upheld his ban for a grapple tackle on Brisbane’s Sam Thaiday.
Smith gained redemption the year after when Melbourne beat Parramatta to win the premiership but the title was later stripped for salary cap breaches.
The Australian and Queensland captain then led the Storm to their 2012 premiership triumph.
Luke admitted to being “devastated” but urged his teammates to move on and focus on the clash with Canterbury at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.
“Can only feel stronger for my brothers that will take the battlefield,” Luke wrote on Instagram.
“Now to focus on our game this weekend.”
Rookie rake Apisai Koroisau will take Luke’s place at dummy half for the Rabbitohs.
BANNED FROM THE BIG ONE
Arthur Beetson (Balmain) 1969
Greg Pierce (Cronulla) 1978
Dane Sorensen (Cronulla) 1978
Steve Bowden (Newtown) 1981
Steve Roach (Balmain) 1988
John Lomax (Canberra) 1994
Jim Serdaris (Manly) 1997
Peter Ryan (Brisbane) 1998
Luke Ricketson (Sydney Roosters) 2004
Carl Webb (North Queensland) 2005
Cameron Smith (Melbourne) 2008
Issac Luke (South Sydney) 2014