Roger Tuivasa-Sheck will remain as captain of the New Zealand Warriors, despite Kiwis skipper Adam Blair’s arrival, as the club looks to convince the star fullback to extend his tenure at the club.
Tuivasa-Sheck, who was appointed captain of the Warriors last year, played under Blair in the New Zealand team at the recent World Cup but Warriors chief executive Cameron George said coach Stephen Kearney had no plans to change leaders.
“Stephen and I have spoken about it a number of times over the off-season and we have no doubt that Roger is a very suitable and appropriate person to be our captain and lead the club forward. Nothing has changed in my mind,” George told NRL.com.
“Roger is a winner, he is a quality person and he has a very good rapport with people on and off the field. He is the type of person we are very comfortable having lead our club and someone we can continue to build around.”
Tuivasa-Sheck is off contract at the end of this season and there have already been reports linking him with a switch to rugby union or elsewhere in the NRL.
Given the 24-year-old’s standing in the game, George said the Warriors accepted there would be speculation about his future and assured fans they would be doing everything possible to retain him.
“The local tennis club will be ringing him, he is that type of player so there will be significant interest in him,” George said.
“We have had initial discussions with Roger and his management, he is a priority for us and at this stage we are just letting Roger focus on the off-season. His manager and I are in constant contact and hopefully at the appropriate time in the near future we can progress those discussions.”
Despite the Kiwis’ failure to make it past the quarter-finals of the World Cup, Tuivasa-Sheck was one of the stars of the tournament and his on-field leadership qualities were evident in the team’s 28-22 loss to Tonga and the 4-2 defeat by Fiji.
After scoring a try before half-time to give the Kiwis a 16-2 lead against Tonga, Tuivasa-Sheck took it upon himself to get to his team back in the game after the Mate Ma’a had scored four unanswered tries and levelled the scores with a 72nd-minute solo try.
Tuivasa-Sheck, who won man-of-the-match honours in New Zealand’s 74-6 thrashing of Scotland, was also heavily involved as the Kiwis tried to break the Fiji defence in the quarter-final and came close to scoring on a number of occasions.
While Kearney’s decision to appoint Tuivasa-Sheck as captain last season surprised some, he has been considered a future leader since his junior days and skippered Otahuhu College at the 2011 New Zealand Secondary Schools tournament before being signed by Sydney Roosters.
After breaking into the Sydney Roosters top side in his first season, Tuivasa-Sheck was chosen in the club’s leadership group as a 20-year-old in 2012 and became a key member of their 2013 premiership winning side.
His first season for the Warriors in 2016 ended in frustration after rupturing his ACL in round seven but Tuivasa-Sheck bounced back last year to score 10 tries in 23 matches for the club.