An outspoken New Zealand columnist has lashed out at Roger Tuivasa-Sheck over his announcement that he will be leaving rugby league to join New Zealand Rugby.
Tuivasa-Sheck confirmed on Saturday that this year would be his last with the New Zealand Warriors in the NRL as he is set to return to rugby union, the sport he formerly played as a schoolboy.
While his move to the XV-man game has been largely well-received by those in the union fraternity, league supporters have been hard hit by the 27-year-old’s decision to walk out on the Warriors and the NRL.
An instrumental leader for the Warriors in their season-long move to Australia last year, Tuivasa-Sheck is also one of the NRL’s best players, having won the Dally M Medal in 2018.
Renowned for his athleticism, professionalism and leadership, it’s no surprise league fans and pundits are disappointed at his imminent departure from the code.
The New Zealand Herald‘s Chris Rattue has taken Tuivasa-Sheck’s upcoming exit particularly harshly, labelling the move as “an act of betrayal”.
He noted that because of the value that Tuivasa-Sheck holds to the Warriors and New Zealand rugby league in general, his decision to go to union is “anger-inducing moment” of “seismic” proportions.
“Roger Tuivasa-Sheck IS the Warriors. Or he was. I actually think the Warriors should tell him to shove off now,” Rattue wrote in an opinion column.
“… It’s hard to think of a more disappointing or even anger-inducing moment in the history of a truly crazy, often inept but endlessly entertaining and fascinating sports club.”
He added: “It’s going to be very hard to cheer for him quite frankly. Rugby will be licking its lips, even though this coup just fell into their lap.
“You long sensed this was coming, but it still doesn’t deal with the shock of it actually happening.
“It’s seismic. It’s that bad. The guy is that good, his attitude is that good, his effect on a wobbly club is that important. He also happened to be the probable Kiwis captain.”
New cross-code convert Roger Tuivasa-Sheck may make his highly-anticipated union debut as early as this year in the Mitre 10 Cup.https://t.co/h2N23T94hN
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) February 2, 2021
Rattue went on to write that he would “happily rip his [Tuivasa-Sheck’s] player of the year photos off the Warriors walls. I really would. It feels like an act of betrayal.”
Adding insult to injury is the report, also from the New Zealand Herald, that Tuivasa-Sheck could forgo this year’s Rugby League World Cup in the United Kingdom to begin his union career in the Mitre 10 Cup with Auckland.
Doing so would help ease Tuivasa-Sheck’s cross-code transition ahead of next year’s Super Rugby campaign, but it would also rob the Kiwis of their 20-test star as they target their first world title since 2008.
Considered by Rattue as “the probable next Kiwis captain”, Tuivasa-Sheck was offered a dire farewell from league by the writer.
“By the time he gets to grips with the game, he will be well and truly past the usual prime for an outside back. He isn’t in the Sonny Bill Williams class. Nowhere near it. I don’t see him making it big in rugby,” Rattue wrote.
“Good luck Roger although – at this very point in time – I don’t mean it.”
Tuivasa-Sheck is currently in Australia with the Warriors as they prepare to spend at least the opening four rounds of the new NRL season abroad amid the ongoing travel restrictions brought on by COVID-19.
The Warriors will kick-off their 2021 campaign against the Gold Coast Titans at Central Coast Stadium in Gosford on March 13.
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