League: Tried and true is winner for Tuivasa-Sheck

By Michael Brown

Roosters wing Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has gone back to what serves him best for the NRL premiers and the Kiwis. Picture / Getty Images
Roosters wing Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has gone back to what serves him best for the NRL premiers and the Kiwis. Picture / Getty Images

At just 20, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck thought he needed to reinvent his game.

Last year, he enjoyed unprecedented success as he helped the Roosters to the NRL title, was named Dally M and Rugby League International Federation winger of the year and made his Kiwis debut at the World Cup.

But he thought he needed to add some more weapons to his arsenal because opposition players would have figured him out and it didn't help that the Roosters had a sluggish start to the season.

"I was at training and trying to work on different manoeuvres about how to get through guys in different ways and was trying to work on my power to try to bump guys off, but I wasn't bumping anyone off," he said on the eve of last night's Anzac test in Sydney.

"That's been my biggest problem. I thought they knew what I was going to do so I pulled myself out of what I was going to do. The [Roosters] coach sat me down and told me players like Johnathan Thurston, everyone knows he's got the show and go but he still pulls it off.

I started to think I needed to go back to what worked for me in the first place. Every player has their strengths and they need to keep relying on them.

"In the last couple of games I have gone back to what I usually do and it's sort of working out for me. I just need to stick to it."

When it works, there are few better sights in rugby league. Tuivasa-Sheck has incredible footwork and speed, as well as remarkable poise and football intelligence for a player so young.

Even off the field, he copes well with the attention and when he stumbles, as when he thought Wembley was where they play tennis, he composed himself and came armed with a good statistic (the number of toilets at Wembley) for when he next faced the media.

He scored nine tries in 25 games for the Roosters last season and produced a club-high 19 linebreaks. At the World Cup, he scored eight tries in six games, including a double against England in the Kiwis' semifinal victory.

He will be remembered more for the final, when he limped off after his first carry with a fractured leg. It was an injury he sustained against England but he was cleared to play. In hindsight, it was the wrong decision.

"Training the whole week I felt sweet, I felt right," he said. "It was only in the warmup when I started to feel it and I asked the doc for painkillers. My first run it happened. I was shattered.

"I was taken up the tunnel and then collapsed on the floor. I just wanted to lie there and sulk all day but the doc told me to get back on my feet and to support the boys."

To compound his misery, he saw from the bench the Kiwis being dismantled 34-2 at Old Trafford.

Tuivasa-Sheck once again combined with Dean Whare on the right edge for last night's Anzac test, and both could be a fixture in the side for years to come.

Both have time on their side and are seen as among the best in their positions, although Tuivasa-Sheck looks destined for a switch to fullback at club level.

They also forged a good understanding during the World Cup, exemplified by Whare's over-the-back, diving pass to Tuivasa-Sheck to score against England.

- NZ Herald

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