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'Like a duck to water': Tuivasa-Sheck already impressing Blues coach

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images)

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Blues head coach Leon MacDonald is pleased with what he’s seen from new recruit Roger Tuivasa-Sheck in the early part of New Zealand’s provincial season.

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Tuivasa-Sheck was originally expected to play out the NRL season with the Warriors but surprisingly made the decision to link up with Auckland early and is expected to make his NPC debut in the coming weeks.

MacDonald has understandably been a keen observer of Tuivasa-Sheck at training, with the rugby league superstar expected to make a big impact with the Blues next year.

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Tuivasa-Sheck last played rugby union during his schoolboy years but according to MacDonald, is taking to the XV-man code like a “duck to water”.

“With Roger, it’s how do we make him successful from the start? We don’t want him to come in and struggle,” MacDonald told Ian Smith on the SENZ Mornings radio show.

“He’s already played 1600 minutes for the Warriors so he’s already had a fair chunk of rugby under his belt, so just managing that as well.

“He goes 100 miles an hour, he wants to train a lot which is great. It’s harnessing that energy and the skillset stuff. He’s taken to it like a duck to water really, his catch-pass is great, he’s working hard on his kicking game.

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“He’s spent a lot of time on that breakdown area and it doesn’t look like he’s actually been away from the game a lot, so that’s really exciting for him.”

MacDonald, however, didn’t want to lump any unnecessary pressure on the 28-year-old and suggested that it will still take Tuivasa-Sheck some time to find his feet in his new code.

“There’s a difference between the training pitch and a real game so he’ll be looking forward to taking that first leap out onto the grass and getting a couple of games under his belt,” he said.

The former Daly M Medal winner was expected to make his debut off the bench for Auckland this weekend but the nationwide lockdown has scuppered those plans.

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Tuivasa-Sheck is likely to eventually run out in the outside backs, either at wing or fullback, when he does make his much-anticipated first appearance as a professional rugby union player.

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