NRL: RTS trying to emulate SBW

By Michael Brown

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck of the Roosters. Photo / Getty Images.
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck of the Roosters. Photo / Getty Images.

Sonny Bill Williams might be the most famous among the flock of Roosters with three initials but there's another who is making a rapid ascent in the NRL.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has played only seven NRL games but is quickly establishing a reputation as a player of considerable talent. Already in that time, he's illustrated why he was such a wanted man at high school.

In just his second match last year, he stopped Dragons speedster Brett Morris in his tracks and saved a certain try and then followed it up with a skilful collection of the ball, evasion of four defenders and a 60m scoot upfield before putting Mitchell Pearce over for a crucial try in their 26-10 win.

Tuivasa-Sheck has played on the wing to date but is seen as a possible successor to long-time Roosters fullback and captain Anthony Minichiello. He also seems destined to play for the Kiwis and was invited by coach Stephen Kearney to January's Kiwis camp in Sydney.

"I was really tripping out [at the camp]," he said excitedly. "Hopefully if I perform this year I might get a place in the World Cup team.

That's a big goal for me at the moment."

For most of his childhood, being an All Black was the ambition. He played league in the last couple of years at high school and it was when starring for Otahuhu College at the national secondary schools tournament that his world turned.

Tuivasa-Sheck was on the Warriors' books at the time as one of their academy players but the Roosters and Blues Super Rugby outfit soon made a play for him. The Roosters, as they often do, won.

"I was pretty close to signing with the Warriors until the Roosters asked me to come and have a look at their setup and offered me an opportunity in Sydney," said Tuivasa-Sheck, who will line up against the Warriors at Eden Park tomorrow night. "Just the way they had stuff lined up for me and my family - they were going to help my family get up and going as well - that's what really caught my eye.

"League had a really professional level at junior level [as opposed to rugby union]. They had the under-20s competition, which got me excited, and they provided a professional environment straight out of school. That's what got me interested."

Even then, the Roosters probably thought he would spend some time playing in the NYC competition but within a year of finishing school was making his NRL debut.

Things, it seems, happen quickly for the 19-year-old. He won the club's Arthur Beetson Medal for their best under-20s player in 2012, was also named at wing in the 2012 Toyota Cup Team of the Year and, to round things off, was New Zealand Rugby League's 2012 Junior of the Year.

Most of the attention around Bondi this year has been focused on his famous teammate and Tuivasa-Sheck has been learning off Williams in the short time the former All Black has been at the club.

"It's been good having Sonny Bill on the team," he said. "He calms everyone down. The way he handles all the media and pressure... he's really relaxed. He's a good dude. He goes alright."

Tuivasa-Sheck doesn't go too badly, either, and if he continues to impress he might even be known by his three initials one day, too.

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Roger Tuivasa-Sheck

Age: 19

Position: Fullback/wing

Height; 178cm

Weight: 93kg

NRL games: 7

NRL debut: vs Gold Coast (Rnd 21 2011)

Did you know: Tuivasa-Sheck went through school known as Roger Sheck (after his mother who is of German Samoan descent) but wanted to represent his father so, instead of changing his name, added Tuivasa.

- APNZ

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