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Why Tuivasa-Sheck 'absolutely is in the mix' for RWC squad

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

With this year’s Rugby World Cup just around the corner, Blues midfielder Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has made a statement in the No. 12 jersey in Super Rugby Pacific this season.

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Tuivasa-Sheck received mixed reviews following his first season in professional rugby last year, as he failed to cement his place in the All Blacks after making his Test debut in July.

The dual international, who won the coveted Dally M medal during his NRL career, fell short of the expectation and hype that followed his move to the 15-player game.

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Ahead of this year’s campaign, Blues assistant coach Craig McGrath said the team had seen “a real different Roger” throughout the preseason.

While fans had to wait a little bit longer to see it for themselves, McGrath’s comments have been proven true – the utility back has shown tremendous improvement this season.

Having started all three games for the Blues, Tuivasa-Sheck has probably been their most consistent back so far this season.

Speaking about Tuivasa-Sheck’s form this season, former All Blacks halfback Justin Marshall revealed what he believes to be the secret to the No. 12’s success.

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“Roger in the last two weeks has played much better than what we’ve seen him play recently,” Marshall told SENZ’s The Rugby Run.

“I think he’s actually starting to adapt and adjust now.

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“(A) big part of it is… he’s probably recognised he just needed to take a little bit of depth.

“He was quite often getting the ball and defender at the same time and it didn’t allow him to put (on) any footwork or sort of get a weak shoulder on the defender because he was just basically too flat.

“I still think he could take another metre in depth, just to allow his strengths to come out which is obviously his explosiveness in his footwork, but yes, the last two weekend he certainly has greatly improved.”

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Tuivasa-Sheck began the 2023 season with an impressive defensive performance against the Highlanders in round one, before showing a new side to his attacking game in Super Round.

But the former Warriors captain may have saved his best performance so far for round three.

Having travelled with the Blues to the capital to take on the formerly undefeated Hurricanes at Sky Stadium, Tuivasa-Sheck would be coming up against playmaker Jordie Barrett – the premier No. 12 in New Zealand.

But as Marshall commented on, Tuivasa-Sheck certainly held his own against “one of the best players going around.”

“He was up against one of the best players going around at the moment in Jordie Barrett and he certainly didn’t look out of place,” he added.

“Their clash, I thought, was quite even. I don’t know if he got the better of Jordie but he certainly didn’t lose any ground on him and he probably will be starting 12 for the All Blacks this year so it goes to show you that RTS absolutely is in the mix.”

After losing to the Brumbies in Super Round, the Blues bounced back with a thrilling win over the Hurricanes in Wellington.

But their season doesn’t get any easier in round four.

The Blues will have an opportunity to avenge their defeat in last year’s final when they host the Crusaders at Eden Park on Saturday.

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