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Luke the X-factor for Souths: Asotasi
Ben Horne and Joe Barton
11:30 AEST Sat Sep 1 2012
Issac Luke the X-factor for Souths: Asotasi
Issac Luke is a potential match-winner for South Sydney in the NRL finals despite recent issues.

South Sydney co-captain Roy Asotasi says Issac Luke provides match-winning potential for the Rabbitohs in the NRL finals.

Luke was dropped to NSW Cup two weeks ago for unspecified poor performance on and off the field, but returned with a strong showing off the bench in the Rabbitohs' 18-6 playoffs tune-up against Newcastle on Friday night when they secured an important top-four berth.

Asotasi has packed down alongside Luke for several seasons at the Rabbitohs and also in years past for New Zealand, and knows what the 25-year-old hooker can offer.

It remains to be seen whether Luke will win back his starting spot from rookie Nathan Peats when the finals commence next week.

Asotasi described Luke as one of the best dummy half runners in the game and a finals X-factor.

"All we wanted out of Issac was strong running and I felt like he did that last night," said Asotasi.

"He's one of the great (dummy halves) going around right now, what he can do to put teams in disarray, all he's got to do is pick the ball up and run.

"He's worked his way back into the squad and if he performs he can be anything."

Asotasi seemed destined to miss the rest of the season when he ruptured a pectoral muscle back in the early rounds of the year.

But a strong run and rare try against the Knights on Friday marked his well-timed return to form on the eve of the finals after a couple of weeks of easing his way back into the top grade.

Asotasi paid credit to the club's medical staff for getting him right and to coach Michael Maguire for not rushing him back straight away.

The former Kiwi Test captain won a premiership with Canterbury in 2004 before moving to Souths in 2007 - the first year the foundation club made the finals since 1989.

But since then the Rabbitohs squandered chances and missed the finals for four consecutive seasons.

Asotasi says Maguire was the man to harness the Rabbitohs' talent and help them realise their potential.

"It was tough because we had a lot of great players on paper throughout those years but I guess we just didn't really fulfil our potential as a team," recalled Asotasi.

"Then Maguire came along and I think he's instilled a lot of discipline and the right attitude in our team to get us to where we are right now."

Superstar Souths fullback Greg Inglis pulled off the try-saving tackle of the season on a flying Akuila Uate on Friday - the turning point in the game.

Inglis put the inspirational play down to confidence.

"Nothing was really going through my mind it was just put your body on the line and do my best and lucky for me it came up trumps," he said.