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Roger Tuivasa-Sheck named to make Blues debut against Hurricanes

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

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Former NRL star Roger Tuivasa-Sheck will make his long-awaited rugby union debut on Sunday after being named to start for the Blues in their pre-season clash against the Hurricanes in Wellington.

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Tuivasa-Sheck moved from rugby league to rugby union midway through 2021, but is still yet to make his first appearance in his new code after Auckland withdrew from last year’s NPC due to the city’s four-month lockdown.

As such, the 2018 Dally M Medallist has been forced to wait until Super Rugby Pacific to make his introduction to the XV-man game.

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The wait to see Tuivasa-Sheck in action as a union player is about to finally end, though, as he has been named to start at second-five for the Blues as they kick their pre-season campaign off at Rugby League Park this weekend.

Part of an extended 27-man squad to face the Hurricanes, Tuivasa-Sheck will play his first match of either union or league since last July, when he ended his NRL career as the Warriors lost to the Panthers in Brisbane.

The 28-year-old will do so alongside five-test All Blacks wing Caleb Clarke, who will also make his first appearance since he featured for the All Blacks Sevens at the Oceania Sevens ahead of the Tokyo Olympics in June.

Together, Tuivasa-Sheck and Clarke headline a starting lineup that also sees former All Blacks and Crusaders lock Luke Romano, highly-promising flanker Anton Segner, loose forward Cameron Suafoa and prop Josh Fusitua make their Blues debuts.

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The 12-man reserves list also features a further six Blues debutants in the form of ex-Hurricanes hooker Ricky Riccitelli, Samoa prop Jordan Lay, journeyman lock James Tucker, and New Zealand U20 trio Corey Evans, Sione Ahio and Vaiolini Ekuasi.

Four-test All Blacks prop Alex Hodgman, utility back Bryce Heem, wing Mark Telea, hooker Soane Vikena and halfback Taufa Funaki weren’t considered for selection due to injury.

The match against the Hurricanes, which will be played behind closed doors due to New Zealand’s red light Covid setting, kicks-0ff at 12:30pm on Sunday.

Blues team to play the Hurricanes

1. Josh Fusitua
2. Kurt Eklund (c)
3. Marcel Renata
4. Luke Romano
5. Josh Goodhue
6. Cameron Suafoa
7. Anton Segner
8. Taine Plumtree
9. Lisati Milo-Harris
10. Harry Plummer
11. Caleb Clarke
12. Roger Tuivasa-Scheck
13. Tanielu Tele’a
14. Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens
15. Stephen Perofeta

Reserves/Second Half: Jordan Lay, Ricky Riccitelli, Sione Ahio, Sam Darry, James Tucker, Tom Robinson, Vaiolini Ekuasi, Sam Nock, AJ Lam, Corey Evans, Tamati Tua, Zarn Sullivan.

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