Rugby league phenomenon Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is considering a switch to union with the aim of making the All Black squad for the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
All Blacks’ coach Steve Hansen has fanned the flames of speculation with his dry response when asked if he had talked to Tuivasa-Sheck.
Before departing on the All Blacks end of year tour, Hansen said:
“No I haven’t but I like the rumour.”
“If he comes over to rugby he’d be a good player I think. One of the franchises could pick him up and be quite handy.”
Tuivasa-Sheck or RTS, plays at full-back or wing and captains the Auckland Warriors and is also a mainstay in the New Zealand Rugby League team. He is an electric counter-attacker with scintillating pace and an outrageous step. He is also a solid presence under the high ball.
Tuivasa-Sheck would not be a complete newcomer to union as he has played for the New Zealand schoolboy team. The 24-year-old has had an illustrious career in league and his many achievements will only increase speculation that he is ready for a new challenge in a new sport.
In 2013, he won the NRL Premiership with the Sydney Roosters, and was named the Dally M Winger of the Year.
In the same year, he starred for the Kiwi Rugby League team in the 2013 World Cup scoring eight tries in six matches.
In 2015, in his last year with the Roosters, he won the Dally M full-back of the Year. Later that year, he joined the Auckland Warriors and has not had the same success in the following two seasons, with injury and poor team form frustrating the young captain.
Now, with just one year left on his club contract, the temptation of making a late bid to make the All Blacks World Cup squad is not just a passing fancy.
His manager Bruce Sharrock told the Sydney Morning Herald that Tuivasa-Sheck (24) has openly discussed the possibility and the timing of a switch in codes.
“It’s entered discussions, I’m not going to deny that.”
“He’s at a stage in his career where if he is going to [switch codes], it’s probably going to be sooner rather than later. Not many people can shift later in their career, it makes it very tough.”
Of course, with the huge amount of talent and competition in the All Blacks, Tuivasa-Sheck would have to make rapid progress to be considered competition for the likes of Ben Smith, Rieko Ioane and Nehe Milner-Scudder, but such is his talent that he could join the ranks of other successful code converts from league to union such as Israel Folau, Sonny Bill Williams and Ngani Laumape.
Kaal Kaczmarek, Pundit Arena