League: Check the Sheck

By Michael Brown

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck ran for 265 metres against Scotland. Photo / Getty Images
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck ran for 265 metres against Scotland. Photo / Getty Images

It was a moment Roger Tuivasa-Sheck might look back on sheepishly but it was also something that highlighted just how young he is.

The Kiwis winger was asked what he knew about Wembley, the venue for next weekend's World Cup semifinals. "They play a bit of tennis over there," he said tentatively. "Is that the one?"

Fortunately, Tuivasa-Sheck's prowess on a rugby league park is better than his knowledge of stadiums. Against Scotland, he was irresistible. Most people see his dancing feet and spectacular finishes but he's also deceptively strong, good in the air and usually makes the right decisions.

Against Scotland, that amounted to 265m, 10 tackle breaks, three line breaks and two tries in a man-of-the-match performance.

"He's a young man of 20 years old but, some of the stuff he comes up with, I'm thinking he's been around for 10 years," coach Stephen Kearney said. "It's instinctive. He's a special player. We know the talents and gifts he has, but he just has a maturity about him in the way he goes about his business.

He's a special kid."

He's had a fantastic year. It started with a regular spot in the Roosters side and finished with an NRL title in his first full season. He was also named Dally M Winger of the Year before being picked for the Kiwis' World Cup squad. He took his tally to six tries in four games at the tournament, which lifted him to joint top tryscorer, one of those his now-familiar flying effort in the corner.

"This is a dream come true for a person my age," he said. "I'm still learning. I'm the youngest in camp and there are still a lot of boys I can get experience off. Each week, each day, I listen to them."

One is fellow winger Manu Vatuvei, who was also excellent against Scotland before coming off late with a groin strain - and who used to be Tuivasa-Sheck's idol. The youngster admits it's weird now playing with him.

"Definitely. I pinch myself when I am standing next to him in the national anthem. That's when the buzz hits."

It's all been exciting for the Samoan-born, New Zealand-raised winger with German ancestry who only two years ago was playing rugby union. His second against Scotland saw him easily gather a kick before bamboozling a defender and racing the length of the field to score under the posts.

The centre-court crowd at Wimbledon might even have approved.

- APNZ

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