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NRL Rugby League-Luke Lewis, Mr Utility!

By Ramy Haidar
Special to The Epoch Times
Jun 25, 2008

The Panthers Luke Lewis takes on the defence of the Cowboys' Daniel Abraham and Justin Smith during the round 12 NRL match on May 31. (Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)
The Panthers Luke Lewis takes on the defence of the Cowboys' Daniel Abraham and Justin Smith during the round 12 NRL match on May 31. (Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)


Since breaking into the National Rugby League's first grade back in 2001, Luke Lewis has played wing, centre, five-eighth, second-row and lock. More recently, Lewis has been thrust into the highly specialised position of halfback.

After successfully directing the team at number 7, The Epoch Times spoke to the Penrith Panthers star about his constant change of roles.

"Positions aren't an issue, as long as the team is winning, that's all that matters to me," said the player with more versatility than a Swiss army knife.

Winning is not a novel experience to Lewis, having been part of both a premiership win by the Panthers in 2003 and a State of Origin series win in 2004. When pressed about his greatest achievement so far, his unswerving response was: "My favourite moment was winning the 2003 premiership here at the Panthers. It was exciting and to be able to do it with my mates…just an unbelievable feeling."

Lewis never envisaged himself as the ultimate utility player. Instead he followed the career of a former Penrith great as a path he wished to follow.

"Growing up, my biggest hero was Freddy [Brad] Fittler. He was a champion five-eighth and left his mark on every game."

Amid all the positional changes, Lewis doesn't prepare any differently for his various on-field roles.

"I pretty much train the same drills except for the odd play here and there. But I play with the same weight and my diet is the same as I always eat – the same food everyday, regardless of which position I'm expecting to play in," explained the 24-year-old.

Factbox:

  • Luke Lewis
  • D.O.B: 11/8/1983
  • Height/Weight: 186cm/96kg
  • First Grade Debut: 20/8/2001 Penrith Panthers
  • Tries: 70 in 128 appearances
  • State of Origin: 3 games 2004
  • City v Country: 5 appearances for City 2004–2008

Lewis' monotonous diet makes hospital meal options look like an ŕ la carte menu.

As he diffidently clarified: "For brekkie, it's always porridge. I love it. For lunch, it's always chicken with rice and broccoli. And pretty much the same for dinner. Matter of fact, that's what I have every single day."

When quizzed about the reasons why he enjoyed the Penrith environment, Lewis pointed to the variety of backgrounds in his team.

"They are absolutely great for the game. They can pull something out of nothing with their flair and brilliance," said the product of Sydney's Blacktown.

Nonetheless the Penrith team also has one of the highest concentrations of Islander players in the NRL. The Epoch Times can reveal nine of their top NRL squad were born overseas in either Polynesia or Melanesia.

"You have to have played League at an NRL level to understand just how skilful and mobile Polynesians are. They bring so much to a team and I love playing alongside them."

Bearing a buoyant attitude, he leaves this year's expectations open-ended: "I want to play good footy for Penrith and hopefully make the semis. From there…anything can happen!"

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