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Bunny Luke's NRL return in the air
Russell Jackson
18:58 AEST Tue Aug 28 2012

Issac Luke is facing the prospect of missing a second week of NRL action after he was named on an extended bench for South Sydney's clash with Newcastle on Friday night.

Luke was dumped to NSW Cup side North Sydney last week for disciplinary reasons and was expected to be named in the Rabbitohs' starting line-up for the Knights match at Hunter Stadium just one week out from the finals.

But Souths coach Michael Maguire has stuck with the same starting team that belted Parramatta last Sunday with Luke part of a seven man bench.

Centre Matt King, a member of Souths' leadership group, said Luke was a vital member of the team but backed the call to stand the New Zealand international down from the Eels match.

"He's extremely important. In my opinion along with Cameron Smith they are the best two hookers in the game at the moment," King said.

"Michael Maguire's made a decision to drop him and as a senior player I fully support Madge in that decision.

"Issac's one of us. He's one of the boys and we love him to death."

The other major selection news came from across the Tasman with the Warriors flashy halfback Shaun Johnson axed for Sunday clash with Canberra in Auckland.

Last year's grand final halves partner James Maloney, who will join the Sydney Roosters in 2013, has lost his starting place at five-eighth and been named on an extended bench while captain Simon Mannering returns after missing five games with an ankle injury.

Canberra can jump to sixth if they win and Cronulla lose to North Queensland on Sunday.

Brisbane coach Anthony Griffin has re-shuffled his backline for the Broncos match with Penrith at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.

Josh Hoffman moves from the wing to fullback while Dale Copley will make his return from a broken leg on the wing.

Corey Norman goes from fullback to five-eighth with Ben Hunt dropping back to the bench.

The eighth-placed Broncos are chasing a victory to lock in a finals spot while a loss could see them leapfrogged by ninth placed Wests Tigers if they beat Melbourne at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday night.

The Tigers, who lost 44-20 to the Sydney Roosters last week, have lost five-eighth Liam Fulton with a hand injury with Chris Lawrence named at No.6 while Beau Ryan moves from fullback to the centres with Tim Moltzen reclaiming his No.1 jersey.

Competition leaders Canterbury welcome back rested skipper Michael Ennis for Saturday night's clash with Sydney Roosters, who named an unchanged side from the one that destroyed Wests Tigers.