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Sir Steve Hansen's verdict on Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's All Blacks chances

By Sam Smith
Image by Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz

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Former All Blacks head coach Sir Steve Hansen has delivered his verdict on new Blues star Roger Tuivasa-Sheck’s chances of succeeding in rugby union.

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Tuivasa-Sheck has dominated headlines since switching codes from rugby league, where he became one of the best players in the NRL over a decade-long span.

During that time, he won the competition alongside former All Blacks midfielder Sonny Bill Williams with the Sydney Roosters in 2013 before becoming a Dally M Medallist as the NRL’s best player while at the New Zealand Warriors in 2018.

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As such, considerable hype and anticipation has surrounded the 28-year-old’s move from the NRL to Super Rugby Pacific, where he will suit up for the Blues over the course of the next two seasons.

Among the various talking points that Tuivasa-Sheck’s switch has generated includes his chances of selection for the All Blacks, a prospect of which the man in question has distanced himself from but will undoubtedly be targeting as a long-term goal.

Now Hansen, who won two World Cup titles during his reign as All Blacks assistant and head coach between 2004 and 2019, has weighed in on the matter.

Speaking to Newstalk ZB, the 62-year-old described Tuivasa-Sheck as “a superb athlete” who has “every chance in the world” of becoming an All Black.

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“He’s a superb athlete, and he’s not coming in 100 percent cold, is he? He played for New Zealand schoolboys so he’s played the game before, he’s got an understanding of it, so you could say he’s returning to rugby,” Hansen said.

“He’s got every chance in the world, I think, because of his natural talent, because of the fact that he understands the game already, albeit at a lower level.

“He’s got a great mentor in Leon MacDonald up there, he’s doing a fantastic job, so I think he’s got a real chance. If he plays well, why wouldn’t Fozzy [All Blacks head coach Ian Foster] and his team be excited about having him? He’s an athlete and a half.”

During his time on the All Blacks’ coaching staff, Hansen selected a handful dual-code athletes, including Williams and current Queensland Reds boss Brad Thorn, for the New Zealand national side.

Between those two players, they won five NRL titles with the Brisbane Broncos, Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and Roosters before joining forces to win the 2011 World Cup with Hansen and the All Blacks.

Williams also went on to win the 2015 World Cup under Hansen’s guidance, as well as the 2012 Super Rugby title with the Chiefs, before announcing his retirement from both rugby union and rugby league last year.

Thorn, meanwhile, won the 1997 Super League title with the Broncos, played 14 times for Queensland and eight times for Australia in rugby league, before becoming a Super Rugby champion with the Crusaders in 2008.

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The 47-year-old also claimed the Champions Cup with Leinster in 2012 before ultimately calling time on his 22-year playing career in 2016.

Foster, a former assistant to Hansen and his successor as All Blacks head coach, is yet to select any cross-code athletes since taking charge of New Zealand in 2020, but will have the chance to do so should Tuivasa-Sheck shine for the Blues this year.

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