League: Whare's flick deserves a spot in hall of fame

By Michael Brown

Brilliant pass to Tuivasa-Sheck should get same reverence as Marshall's in 2005.

Dean Whare says his game-changing back-flick "was a lucky one". Photo / Getty Images
Dean Whare says his game-changing back-flick "was a lucky one". Photo / Getty Images

Benji Marshall's flick-pass in the 2005 NRL grand final is one of the enduring moments of the past decade of league and it would be only right if Dean Whare's back-flick was talked about in similarly reverential tones.

Amid all the jubilation and attention around Shaun Johnson's match-winning converted try against England on Sunday morning (NZT), an even more spectacular try was virtually overlooked.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck dotted down on the half-hour after collecting a brilliant back-flick pass from Whare, delivered as the centre was mid-air and sailing over the sideline. It was a crucial play, and one that got the Kiwis back in the match after they trailed 8-0, and an amazing piece of agility and handling that surely surpassed Marshall's famous back-flick to Pat Richards in 2005.

It rounded out a try that featured other moments of good skill within the Kiwis side, starting with Jason Nightingale's leap to slap back a Kieran Foran chip and also featuring a Ben Matulino offload and Issac Luke long ball.

It looked like the move would break down, as Whare thought Luke's pass was intended for Tuivasa-Sheck and let it go before realising he was the final man.

"I saw the ball go over [my head] and thought my winger was there so I had to make up for it," Whare said. "I just threw the ball in and Roger was waiting and we were lucky enough to get the try.

"That's just something I have in my game. I have done it a few times this year.

"I always knew he was going to be there but I hoped it would hit the mark. It was a lucky one," he said.

"I knew I wasn't inside the ground. I was watching my feet. To get that pass into Roger, he still had a lot of work to do. He's got some great footwork and he finished it off well."

Tuivasa-Sheck has been scoring good tries all year, with nine in his first full NRL season with the Roosters, and eight in the World Cup.

It's hoped the 20-year-old will be fit in time for next weekend's final against Australia at Old Trafford - he was cleared of a leg fracture - because Whare and Tuivasa-Sheck have developed a very good combination on the right edge.

"It was a pretty special effort," coach Stephen Kearney said of the try. "But with that right edge over the course of the tournament, it seemed pretty normal. They have done some pretty special things."

It hasn't been an easy tournament for Whare, who lost his grandmother on the eve of the World Cup.

His grandparents raised him as a child and losing his grandmother was like losing his mother. He wears her name on his wrist during games and looks at it often to give him energy and strength. "I think about her every game I play," he said. "She is the one who gets me through most of my games, especially in that last 80 minutes. I could definitely feel her presence there. She helped me out a lot."

- APNZ

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