SBW weighs in on Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's best rugby position
Tuivasa-Sheck was granted an early release from his NRL contract with the Warriors on Monday to return to Auckland and begin his union career earlier than anticipated in light of the eight-week travel pause between New Zealand and Australia.
The 28-year-old announced in February he would end his glittering rugby league career at the end of the current NRL season to pursue a two-year deal with New Zealand Rugby and the Blues next season.
However, the unpredictable Covid-19 climate has forced the 2018 Dally M Medallist to call time on his league career with six rounds still to play in the NRL regular season.
The ex-Warriors captain leaves league with 195 NRL appearances, a 2013 NRL Premiership title and 20 test caps to his name, and is expected to begin his union career with Auckland in this season’s NPC, which will kick-off next weekend.
Williams told Channel Nine it is now only a matter of time before Tuivasa-Sheck becomes an All Black, where he believes his former Sydney Roosters and Kiwis teammate is likely feature on the wing.
“I think he’ll play wing in the early stages of his transition,” Williams, one of the greatest union-league dual-code athletes ever, said of Tuivasa-Sheck.
“For me, it’s not a case of will he make it to the All Blacks or will he thrive in the game of 15, it’s a question of how long it’ll take.
“We’ve got to remember that he grew up as a rugby player and league boys poached him from the game of rugby and brought him across, so he shouldn’t have too much problems transitioning back.”
Williams – who played 58 tests for the All Blacks, won two Rugby World Cups, won two NRL Premierships, played 12 tests for the Kiwis and played sevens for New Zealand at the 2016 Rio Olympics – noted Tuivasa-Sheck’s move to union will be significant for the code in Australia.
“The biggest thing for rugby-loving people in Australia is it’s the shot in the arm that Australian rugby union needs right now.”
Williams added Tuivasa-Sheck has all the characteristics required to flourish as a union player as he eyes a place in the All Blacks squad for the 2023 World Cup in France.
“For me, what he represents, obviously we see his feats on the field and it’s amazing he can do things that no other player can do, but what I love about him is just him as a man, the person,” Williams told Channel Nine.
“He is humble and he’s kept that hard-working approach all throughout his career.
“What Roger also represents is he is a boy from South Auckland, a predominantly low-income area, and he’s made it. He’s thrived on the biggest stage so a lot of young guys who come from that similar background see him as an inspiration.”
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