ISSAC Luke will be back leading the Kiwis' pre-match haka against Samoa in their Four Nations clash in Whangarei today, but this time he'll be wearing football boots.
The 29-Test veteran will make his long-awaited return from suspension for a lifting tackle on Sonny Bill Williams in last month's NRL preliminary final, which robbed him of a grand final appearance and a place in last Saturday's win against Australia in Brisbane.
Despite being unable to play, Luke fronted the haka in Brisbane and was a conspicuous sight in his bare feet, but there was an explanation for his casual look.
"Us Maoris don't do hakas in shoes, only in boots," the elusive No.9 said.
"I know because my sister is hardout into her Maori culture, and I grew up in kapa haka with the family. I would have got a kick up the a*** if I had left my shoes on."
The Rabbitohs star said he expected Samoa to provide a fierce challenge after its 32-26 loss to England last weekend.
"I know a few of the boys. Frankie Pritchard is in there, ex-Kiwis and all the boys that wanted to make the Kiwis as well," Luke said.
"I know it will be a big game for them and a massive game for us."
Samoa has several former New Zealand internationals in the line-up, including Pritchard, captain David Fa'alogo, five-eighth Ben Roberts and winger Antonio Winterstein.
The Kiwis were highly impressive against Australia, with starting props Jesse Bromwich and Adam Blair, back-rowers Simon Mannering, Kevin Proctor and Jason Taumalolo, and halves Shaun Johnson and Kieran Foran all playing well.