A highly valued and ultra-consistent member of Sydney Roosters’ engine-room despite lacking the profile of many of his clubmates, Isaac Liu represented Samoa before becoming a regular in the New Zealand Test team.
The Otahuhu Leopards junior arrived in Sydney via celebrated Gold Coast rugby league nursery Keebra Park State High School, playing for Wests Tigers NYC team in 2010 and the Roosters’ under-20s in 2011.
Liu made his NRL debut for the star-studded Roosters in 2013, racking up 15 rookie-season appearances. The 22-year-old came off the bench in the club’s preliminary final win over Newcastle but missed out on the final 17 that won the following week’s grand final.
The hardworking prop/back-rower became a permanent pick in Roosters coach Trent Robinson’s squad from 2014. He debuted for Toa Samoa against Fiji mid-season, before playing all three matches of their spirited Four Nations campaign against England, New Zealand and Australia.
Liu represented Samoa against Tonga midway through 2015 and played an underrated role in a third straight Roosters minor premiership. He was selected in New Zealand’s squad to tour England at the end of the year but was not called upon for any of the three Tests.
Full Kiwi honours came two years later when Liu was picked for the Rugby League World Cup. He made a tryscoring debut off the bench in the pool win over Toa Samoa and featured as an interchange in subsequent losses to Mate Ma’a Tonga and Fiji.
Liu was a non-playing member of the 19-man Kiwis squad for the 2018 Denver Test against England, but he started in the second-row in all four post-season Tests against Australia and England, scoring a try in the 34-0 victory over the latter at Elland Road. He lined up in the No.13 jersey as New Zealand defeated Tonga at Mt Smart Stadium the following season.
By now a genuine leader at the Roosters – and predominantly playing as a middle forward – ‘Ice’ collected a pair of NRL premiership rings after the club’s back-to-back grand final triumphs in 2018-19. Liu’s sixth straight season of making 22-plus first-grade appearances took him past the 150-game mark for the Tricolours in 2019.
A knee injury ruled the 28-year-old out of the Kiwis’ 2019 end-of-year campaign.
Liu played 19 of the Roosters’ 22 games in 2020, averaging 27 tackles and 106 metres as one of the injury-hit champs’ most reliable performers.
A mainstay as the Roosters battled a shocking injury toll in 2021, Liu started all 26 of his team’s matches and passed the 200-game milestone for the club – just the 11th player to do so. The Roosters’ semi-final exit, the 19th playoffs game of Liu’s career, would be his last outing for the club ahead of a move to Gold Coast Titans at the end of the year.
Liu was named in the Kiwis’ wider squad for the 2022 Rugby League World Cup.