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Blues coach's rave review of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck ahead of new season

By Alex McLeod
Image by Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz

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Blues assistant coach Tom Coventry has lathered star recruit Roger Tuivasa-Sheck in praise as the Auckland-based side continues its preparations for the upcoming Super Rugby Pacific campaign.

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Tuivasa-Sheck has dominated headlines as the competition’s major signing of the off-season after it was announced last year that he would switch to rugby union following 10 seasons in the NRL with the Sydney Roosters and New Zealand Warriors.

The 2013 NRL champion and 2018 Dally M Medal winner has since caught the eye of his peers and new coaches after linking up with the Blues for pre-season training in the lead-up to the beginning of Super Rugby Pacific.

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Blues head coach Leon MacDonald has been vocal in his admiration for the 28-year-old’s training efforts in recent weeks, and Caleb Clarke revealed how hard Tuivasa-Sheck pushed him as they stayed fit together during last year’s lockdown in Auckland.

Now, fresh after inking a two-year contract extension with the Blues, Coventry jumped on the Tuivasa-Sheck hype train.

Speaking to media on Tuesday, the Auckland-based franchise’s forwards coach spoke highly of the former rugby league star’s contribution at training and how well he has integrated himself into the side’s all-star squad.

“Roger’s been awesome. Roger’s a real pro. He’s formed a really strong relationship with Caleb. I don’t know if he mentioned that, but those two have been training really hard,” Coventry said.

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“Roger’s a sponge for information. He finds space and time to go and talk to a coach or one of the players around some of the things that are confusing for him but he’s contributing also around some of our attacking shapes at the moment.

“He’s asking a little bit more of some of our boys around some of the lines he’d like to run around them. He’s contributing in a really good way and we’re looking forward to seeing him play.”

Coventry’s comments echo the sentiments of MacDonald, who was impressed by the intensity and physicality at which Tuivasa-Sheck has trained.

Likewise, evidence of Tuivasa-Sheck’s seamless integration into the Blues set-up was reflected by Clarke, who made note on Tuesday of how his new teammate has leaned upon the side’s chief playmakers and leaders for guidance.

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“Now he’s got all the coaches, he’s got boys like Stephen [Perofeta] and Harry [Plummer], and it’s just awesome that he’s really growing in the game and he’s helped me with a bit of my footwork,” Clarke said.

“It’s helped me out on attack, but I don’t think it’s helped me much on [defence]. I’m still getting stepped here and there, but it’s been good, though. It’s just been real cool having someone of his calibre here at the Blues.”

Tuivasa-Sheck will have the chance to make his official Blues debut next month when his side opens Super Rugby Pacific against cross-town rivals Moana Pasifika at Mt Smart Stadium on February 18.

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