New cross-code convert Roger Tuivasa-Sheck may make his highly-anticipated union debut as early as this year in the Mitre 10 Cup.
That’s according to a report from the New Zealand Herald following Tuivasa-Sheck’s confirmation of his decision to move from rugby league to union on Saturday, with the 2021 NRL season set to be his last for the Warriors.
Given the NRL’s regular season concludes on September 5 and the competition’s playoffs are set to culminate in a grand final on October 3, many assumed Tuivasa-Sheck wouldn’t be available to play union until next year’s edition of Super Rugby.
However, the Herald reports that the 2018 Dally M Medal winner could be in line to play for Auckland in this year’s Mitre 10 Cup to help ease the jump between the two codes.
With the 2021 Mitre 10 Cup scheduled to get underway on September 11 and wrap up on November 27, such a move would give Tuivasa-Sheck plenty of time accustom himself to union prior to Super Rugby, regardless of how the Warriors’ fare this season.
It also means the 2013 NRL Premiership winner would also be unavailable for this year’s Rugby League World Cup in the United Kingdom, which is scheduled to take place in October and November.
By ditching the World Cup and opting against adding to his 20 test caps for the Kiwis, Tuivasa-Sheck will instead commit himself to the Blues, despite the interest of two other Super Rugby franchises, according to the Herald.
The report states that while both the Chiefs and Highlanders showed interest in the Warriors captain, he is expected to complete a two-year deal with the Blues this week.
That will lay the foundations for his quest to make the All Blacks squad in the lead-up to the 2023 World Cup in France.
But, while most expect Tuivasa-Sheck to play in the outside backs – he made his name in the NRL as a standout fullback – in union, the All Blacks are reportedly eager for him to transition into the midfield.
According to the Herald, this is because of the huge depth in quality among the outside backs across New Zealand, which is vastly more than that of the nation’s midfield stocks.
Glad to hear today that Roger Tuivasa-Sheck could link up with Auckland for the M10 Cup.
— Tom Vinicombe (@TomVinicombe) February 2, 2021
That echoes the sentiments of Andrew Douglas, the Old Glory DC boss who coached Tuivasa-Sheck when he was in the 2011 New Zealand Schools team alongside Ardie Savea, Ngani Laumape and Patrick Tuipulotu.
Douglas said last week that he sees the former Otahuhu College 1st XV and Blues U18 representative as a midfielder in the long-haul.
Whether Tuivasa-Sheck flourishes in the midfield or in the outside backs remains to be seen, but, if reports are to be believed, he could be playing in either position in the Mitre 10 Cup by the end of the year.
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