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Roger Tuivasa-Sheck could return to NRL next season

By Ned Lester
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck /Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck may have at least one NRL contract on the table for next season, Sir John Kirwan reported on Sky’s The Breakdown on Sunday night.

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The former Daley M (the NRL’s MVP award) winner could elect to leave rugby union should he continue to struggle for meaningful minutes on the All Blacks‘ northern tour.

The Blues midfielder earned an All Blacks selection in his debut Super Rugby campaign but has managed to take the field just twice on the international stage, both being in short appearances off the bench.

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The panel were discussing consistency in selection when Kirwan revealed the “whisper”:

“Little whisper is that there is a contract on the table for Roger Tuivasa-Sheck back at the Roosters,” Kirwin said. “If he feels at the end of the northern tour that maybe…”

The panel then speculated that there would be more than one contract on offer if NRL clubs sniffed a potential return for the star fullback.

“Well that’d be disappointing if that’s the case,” Jeff Wilson replied. “I can understand there’d be frustration around this.

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“We certainly haven’t seen the best of him on a rugby field yet because he hasn’t had the opportunity.

“But like you say, time is running out and where do those opportunities lie?”

Tuivasa-Sheck has made 12 appearances for the Blues in addition to his five recent NPC caps with Auckland.

The All Blacks will name a 36-man squad for their Northern Tour with four tests against tier one nations to be played over late October and November.

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“I think the hardest thing is, we’re just running out of time, so I want to see Roger get a decent crack,” Kirwan continued.

“I understand why he didn’t get on last night… bonus point… there’s a lot going on, we’ve got to win the [Rugby Championship].

“But the northern tour, he probably shouldn’t play against Japan, we need to see him against Scotland or Wales where it’s a big test match.

“If you picked him as your midfield right now, he’s probably the last on the bus. Anton Lienert-Brown you know, Jordie [Barret] is now playing 12, David Havili’s back…”

Tuivasa-Sheck’s place in the pecking order took another hit last week when Jordie Barrett was named to start at second five in the second Bledisloe test.

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Barrett’s stellar performance could see him battle David Havili for the starting role while experienced campaigner Anton Lienert-Brown-Brwon is expected to return from injury in time to join the team for their trip to Asia and Europe.

Mils Muliaina had sympathy for the situation.

“The circumstances haven’t helped Roger,” Muliaina said. “Because ideally Fozzie would have wanted to win, to get him some time during that Irish series, the thing that he’s lacking at the moment, is time.

“Time in terms of, not having to second think where he has to go over the ball, where all our second fives are doing that, he hasn’t played rugby for a long time, those are sorts of stuff, when he has to kick.

“At the moment, his attacking game is outstanding but it’s just those little things that you don’t have to think about when you’ve been playing the game for years and years and unfortunately he needs time in the saddle and he hasn’t had that.”

The initial plan for Tuivasa-Sheck was to join Super Rugby and compete for a spot in next years’ Rugby World Cup side.

At the time of his decision, Roger didn’t have a position in mind to play in his return, that call was made by Blues coach Leon McDonald (potentially with some consultation from Ian Foster).

The landscape of midfielders in New Zealand is a rapidly evolving one.

“What I’ve noticed,” Kirwan further added. “Is that our kicking game, our short kicking game, our manipulative attacking game has now gone to the foot of 12, so he’s going to have to show us that on the northern tour as well, that kicking game, we know he can step.

“It’s a timing issue, I mean I hope he doesn’t go back to the Roosters, I hope he stays for a few more years yet.”

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