Luke Lewis reveals the catalyst for mid-career positional switch
Former NRL star Luke Lewis has revealed the catalyst for why he underwent a successful positional switch mid-career.
After retiring from Rugby League earlier this season, Lewis will go down as one of the few successful NRL stars to win premierships at different clubs, while also winning one – playing as both a back and a forward.
For Lewis who debuted in 2001 – it didn’t take long for him to win his first premiership in 2003 with Penrith – who knocked over the Sydney Roosters in a grand final remembered for that famous tackle by Scott Sattler.
He played on the wing in that premiership – but in 2016 when he helped Cronulla to their drought-breaking premiership – Lewis featured in the back-row and was a mainstay of the Shire team’s forward pack.
Lewis was also the Clive Churchill medallist in the record-breaking triumph.
But the 35-year-old credits former coach Matthew Elliott for giving him the freedom to explore his talents.
“Matty Elliott was coaching at the time and I actually broke my finger in a trial game against the Bulldogs and ended up having three or four weeks off,” Lewis said.
“I came back around round four or five and we were playing the Wests Tigers and Adam Woolnough ended up doing his knee.
“Matty brought me back into the game off the bench and he goes ‘Louey’ you’re going to have to go play in the middle and go and play lock.
“I ended up playing 40 minutes there and the boys gave me Players’ Player and I never really went back.
“It absolutely brought back the love of the game.
“I was getting a little bit bored out in the centres, the game was a bit different then, you sort of had to wait for the ball to come to you or go in and get your dummy half runs.
“When I got into the middle, I got to play with the ball which I used to love doing as a kid playing a five-eighth role, so I ended up becoming more of a ball-playing lock.”
The football hard nut was known for his ability to break the game open with big plays when his team needed it most, while he was also a wall in defence.
Throughout his 324 first grade games Lewis played just about anywhere on the field and was an invaluable asset to both Penrith and Cronulla.
Lewis also credited the influence of Brad Fittler for a lot of his success.
“I got to play with someone I idolised my whole life,” Lewis said.
“He was someone I tried to base my game off when I was a younger guy.
“I sat next to him on the bus, I took everything in that I could, I knew Freddy also prided himself on being the first one at the training park and the last one off.
“I always tried to make sure I could get on the park just before him and get off the field just after him.
“I just stayed out there until he sort of stopped, I learnt so much on how to try and become a professional.
“I learnt how much of a leader he was and how he got the best out of each other and the best out of all his teammates and that’s something that I held pretty close to my heart pretty much my whole career.”
The 35-year-old was also a New South Wales and Australian representative.
Listen to the full interview below: