'I guess the coaches have seen something in me' - Kiwis hooker hoping to impress after taking hero's spot

Matt Manukia
Source: 1News

For years Danny Levi has dreamed of playing alongside his idol, Issac Luke, in a Kiwis jersey.

Not once did he ever think he would replace him.

But that is what happened when Luke was left out of the Kiwis' 24-man World Cup squad, paving the way for the uncapped Levi to be selected alongside Thomas Leuluai and former Junior Kiwis team-mate Kodi Nikorima as one of three options in the No 9 jersey.

"For myself personally, it shows how much I've improved," Levi told 1 NEWS.

"I guess the coaches have seen something in me and I've been lucky enough to get the opportunity."

But Luke's handling of the situation is what could really set Levi up to have a stellar tournament.

"I would have loved to have played with him (Luke), I still hope one day I get to do that."

"He messaged me and congratulated me an everything, told me to soak it all up."

At just 21-years-old, the Newcastle Knights rake is the second youngest player in the Kiwis.

The youngest is NRL Premiership-winning Melbourne Storm prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona, who he grew up with in Wellington.

It has been five years since Levi left New Zealand and working for his partner's (Kimberley Goodearl) father as a plumber.

The Newcastle Knights recognised his talent, making him their under-20s captain in 2014 and extending his contract three times, most recently until the end of 2020.

Levi, who is of Maori and Samoan decent, made his NRL debut in 2015 but quickly faced one of the biggest challenges of his career when he suffered a prolapsed disc in his back which required surgery early in the following year.

Under the tutelage of former Knights and New South Wales state of Origin hooker Danny Buderus, Levi is a pocket-rocket with all the attributes to become one of the key personnel in the Kiwis spine.

He has also become a favourite of Kiwis team-mates who have made him the official team barber after holding a similar role in Newcastle.

Levi even has a podcast called 'Cut to the Point' on SoundCloud in which he records himself chatting to Knights players as he cuts their hair.

"When I first moved to Newcastle, I was trying to find barber shops to go to, and they were all too expensive," he said.

"So I started cutting my own hair - I thought I got pretty good at it and I decided I'd get some of the boys to practice on.

"I started off with a few dodgy ones, I think they were just too nice to tell me."