Levi looks up to long-lasting Luke

NEWCASTLE’S Wellington-born hooker Danny Levi says it will be an honour to go up against Issac Luke in his 200th NRL match.

The Junior Kiwis’ No.9 is establishing himself as the best young New Zealand hooker in the NRL and has played 17 games since making his debut last year.

CHALLENGE: Danny Levi is eager to play against Issac Luke.

He says he grew up in awe of Luke and is delighted he’ll be on the field when the 29-year-old reaches a milestone moment on Saturday when the two teams playeach other at Hunter Stadium.

“He was my idol growing up and he’s someone I still look up to,” said Levi, who is nine years Luke’s junior.

“He’s a world-class hooker and hopefully one day I can look back and have the same sort of career as he’s had.

“It’s an accomplishment for him to make it to 200 games and still be one of the best hookers in the game.

“It will be a big test for me and it’ll show me where I’m at. It’s always an honour to play against him and more so on his 200th.”

Levi has played in nine of the Knights’ games this season and hasn’t been on the winning side in any of them.

The club’s only win this season was a 18-16 win over Wests Tigers in round six, as they struggle for results while coach Nathan Brown rebuilds a team that’s still recovering from Wayne Bennett’s disappointing tenure as coach between 2012 and 2014.

“It has been pretty tough,” Levi said. “We’re definitely trying to build our team and the boys have still been good.We go into the game each week pretty confident and not focusing on what happened the previous week.’’

While the Knights were comfortably beaten 46-16 by the Cowboys last weekend, their two previous game were tight contests, going down 20-12 to the Tigers in the return fixture and 20-18 to the Eels.

Both of those games could have ended up as Knights wins and Levi feels the team is heading in the right direction.

“Our best defensive game would have been against Parramatta, we really stepped up against them,” he said.

“Last week against the Cowboys it was a tough one and we did show some really good things in our game, but they’re a quality side and physically they were better than us.

“They’ve got some of the best players in the world, so for us to do some good things against that sort of team, shows we’re making progress and hopefully we can get a win soon.”

While the Knights are doing it tough at the moment, before the Warriors’ 36-18 win over the Broncos last weekend, there was plenty of doom and gloom around that club and a defeat on Saturday will bring back some of that feeling.

“We know they’re going to be tough no matter what,” Levi said.

“They did have a good win against one of the best sides in the competition, so they’re definitely going to be high on confidence and we’ve got to make sure we step it up another notch.

“They had been in the same category as us earlier in the season, but it will all depend on who wants it most at the weekend.”

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