Roger Tuivasa-Sheck says he's inspired by Jonah Lomu's legacy

Warriors player Roger Tuivasa-Sheck during training at Mt Smart Stadium. 19 January 2016 New Zealand Herald Photograph by Dean Purcell.
Warriors player Roger Tuivasa-Sheck during training at Mt Smart Stadium. 19 January 2016 New Zealand Herald Photograph by Dean Purcell.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck never met the late Jonah Lomu but he didn't have to search far to understand the legacy behind the giant of New Zealand sport.

Tuivasa-Sheck regularly watched YouTube clips of Lomu trampling over hapless defenders to gain an appreciation for the All Blacks legend.

On top of revelling in the winger's undisputed on-field talent, he also soaked up the contrast of Jonah's humility and connection with the people.

These are qualities Tuivasa-Sheck values highly and ones he wants to develop as he attempts to become his own man at the Warriors after four years living with his parents in Sydney.

"In my eyes as a fellow Polynesian, Jonah's achievements gives us no excuses not to be like him and go all the way and achieve," Tuivasa-Sheck told The Daily Telegraph.

"He was the best player in the world and just a freak at what he could do.

"He was a Tongan boy from Auckland who didn't have much growing up, but he just always worked and worked and he made it to the bigs.

"He also had a legacy of always turning up and playing his role.

"It's pretty cool for us Polynesian boys to keep striving to be like Jonah.

"He is a guy who you want to be known like - the best player and bloke."

Leaving the comfort zone

Tuivasa-Sheck freely concedes he is still shy in front of the cameras, while he often struggles to speak his mind and make decisions.

At just 22, the flying fullback has plenty to learn in life and it's why he wanted to link with the Warriors to challenge himself.

Tuivasa-Sheck has also seen fellow Polynesians Jarryd Hayne, Israel Folau and Sonny Bill Williams jump off the ledge and chase their dreams, now he is ready to do likewise.

"They are all players who I really look up to and find inspirational," he said.

"Hopefully I can achieve like they have.

"I know players at the Warriors will look at me as a senior player and I feel like I can step up and lift my role and be more out there.

"Be that man I want to be.

"I can't keep asking mum and dad what I should say, it's time for me to make my own choices.

"I wanted to move back to Auckland to see if I could handle it on my own."

Shaun Johnson

The man nicknamed 'RTS' has been at the Warriors for only a few months, but he has already built a close connection with his halfback.

The pair regularly share ideas, including the invention of a new handshake, but it's Johnson's Golden Boot-winning experience that excites Tuivasa-Sheck most.

"We'll joke around, but it's pretty cool seeing Shaun in crunch time when something is not right," he reveals.

"It's seeing him change into that leadership role as one of the leaders.

"He steps up and talks to us and lets us know where he wants us to run.

"That's something you don't see on TV - Shaun yelling at the boys and telling him what he wants.

"That was cool to see that side of him, just knowing that we can trust him and work off him.

"That's something I've picked up is how good Shaun is at beating and drawing in defenders to create space for his outside backs.

"Hopefully I can play my role in connecting."

Training programme

Tuivasa-Sheck enjoyed a stellar 2015 season, highlighted by an NRL record for attacking gains, but the fullback is far from content.

He has spent the summer honing his fitness through countless endurance sprints, while he has devoted enormous hours to skill improvement.

"I just want to always better myself," he said.

"Cappy (McFadden) and I have gone through things I can improve in my game, especially in defence.

"I'm also working on my attack and the combinations I have on my field.

"Even last year with the running metres stats, that wasn't really a focus.

"It was just a number that popped up at the end of the game.

"I think that's the same this year and I'm just going to play what's in front of me.

"If the metres go up, they go up. But if not, then my game is to hopefully score, set up and save tries."

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck during a Warriors training session.

Andrew McFadden

Tuivasa-Sheck has been highly impressed with the Warriors coach, especially his attention to detail.

"You get that feeling that he is always watching you and he is there to help, so that's a real positive thing I like about Cappy," he said.

"I really like how he always tips me up on things like practising my left to right passing and getting my left shoulder involved in tackles.

"He is always in your ear about improvement and that's what you want as a player."
Nines

Tuivasa-Sheck will make his first appearance in a Warriors jumper at next month's Nines - a dream debut for the Samoan-born flyer.

"That will be amazing to play in the Nines," he enthused.

"The games have so much space and speed, which suits us outside backs.

"To get my first run as a Warrior that will be pretty cool and a great way to kick it off."

- Daily Telegraph UK

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