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Roger Tuivasa-Sheck named for long-awaited Auckland debut

By Tom Vinicombe
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

Having already turned out for the Blues and All Blacks this year, former Warriors star Roger Tuivasa-Sheck will make his long-awaited debut for Auckland when they take on Bay of Plenty on Sunday.

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Having signed with New Zealand Rugby on a three-year deal that was initially set to kick off at the beginning of 2022, Tuivasa-Sheck made the decision to part ways with the Warriors part-way through last year in order to suit up for Auckland and better prepare himself for his transition from rugby league to rugby union.

Tuivasa-Sheck never got the chance to take the field for Auckland, however, with their campaign curtailed just three weeks into the season due to the Covid.

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As such, Tuivasa-Sheck’s professional union debut came for the Blues earlier this year when they squared off with the Hurricanes at Eden Park, with the 29-year-old going on to make 11 appearances throughout the franchise’s run to the Super Rugby Pacific grand final.

The former Kiwis representative earned his international Test debut for the All Blacks in the third match with Ireland during their July series, accumulating a handful of minutes off the bench.

Now, almost a year on from when Tuivasa-Sheck first switched to the 15-man game, he will notch up his first appearance in the blue and white hoops of Auckland having been named in the No 12 jersey for Sunday’s clash.

Auckland have named a strong squad across the park but their backline looks especially potent with Tuivasa-Sheck injected into the midfield. Super Rugby representatives Taufa Funaki, Harry Plummer, Salesi Rayasi and AJ Lam will provide plenty of firepower against a Bay of Plenty line-up that will include new All Blacks prop Aidan Ross.

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Auckland currently stand unbeaten atop the Evens conference in the NPC rankings with three victories while Bay of Plenty narrowly lost to Wellington in the opening round of the competition before thrashing Taranaki last week to reside in fourth place in the Odds conference.

Sunday’s match will kick off at 2:05pm with the winner of the match set to claim the John Drake Boot.

Auckland: Jordan Trainor, Thomas Aoake, AJ Lam, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Salesi Rayasi, Harry Plummer (c), Taufa Funaki, Jackson Pugh, Adrian Choat, Vaiolini Ekuasi, Connor vest, Hamish Dalzell, Marcel Renata, Leni Apisai, Alex Hodgman. Reserves: Soane Vikena, Jordan Lay, Hamdahn Tuipulotu, Jamie Lane, Niko Jones, Manu Paea, Simon Hickey, Corey Evans.

Bay of Plenty: Gillies Kaka, Emoni Narawa, Joey Walton, Inga Finau, Nigel Ah Wong, Kaleb Trask, Jamie Dobie, Zane Kapeli, Jacob Norris, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Justin Sangster, Tevita Mafileo, Kurt Eklund, Aidan Ross. Reserves: Anaru Rangi, Haeriti Hetet, Pasilio Tosi, Nikora Broughton, Penitoa Finau, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Wharenui Hawera, Taylor Haugh.

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Flankly 2 hours ago
Resilient Irish will test Springboks despite provincial setbacks

The Bok kryptonite is complacency. How did they lose to Japan in 2015, or to Italy in 2016? There are plenty of less dramatic examples. They often boil down to the Boks dialing back their focus and intensity, presuming they can win with less than 100% commitment. This can be true of most teams, but there is a reason that the Boks are prone to it. It boils down to the Bok game plan being predicated on intensity. The game plan works because of the relentless and suffocating pressure that they apply. They don’t allow the opponent to control the game, and they pounce on any mistake. It works fantastically, but it is extremely demanding on the Bok players to pull it off. And the problem is that it stops working if you execute at anything less than full throttle. Complacency kills the Boks because it can lead to them playing at 97% and getting embarrassed. So the Bulls/Leinster result is dangerous. It’s exactly what is needed to introduce that hint of over-confidence. Rassie needs to remind the team of the RWC pool game, and of the fact that Ireland have won 8 of the 12 games between the teams in the last 20 years. And of course the Leinster result also means that Ireland have a point to prove. Comments like “a club team beating a test team” will be pasted on the changing room walls. They will be out to prove that the result of the RWC game truly reflects the pecking order between the teams. The Boks can win these games, but, as always, they need to avoid the kryptonite.

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