David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

NRL: Tuivasa-Sheck injury a devastating blow but depth should serve Warriors well

The Warriors have lost fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck to a season-ending ACL injury suffered in Saturday's win over the Bulldogs. Photo/Getty.
The Warriors have lost fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck to a season-ending ACL injury suffered in Saturday's win over the Bulldogs. Photo/Getty.

The Warriors suffered a devastating blow with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck ruled out with a season-ending ACL injury, but depth at fullback and in the halves means the club's situation is not as desperate as it might seem.

In just his seventh outing for the Warriors, Tuivasa-Sheck twisted his left knee awkwardly in a tackle in the ninth minute of Saturday's 24-20 win over the Bulldogs in Wellington, but had the leg strapped and tried to play on before it buckled under him on his next attempted carry.

Scans confirmed initial fears that the injury would bring a premature end to his NRL season with the Kiwis international to undergo surgery in three weeks and facing more than six months on the sidelines, while he will also miss the upcoming transtasman test against the Kangaroos at Newcastle on May 6.

"Unfortunately it's the worst case news," coach Andrew McFadden told Radio Sport.

"It's shattering for Roger and very disappointing for the club.

"We feared the worst after the game but scans confirmed those today. Obviously he's very disappointed. He hasn't had many injuries in his career so it's difficult for him to take at the moment because he's a very motivated kid.

"It's shattering for him but one thing I know about him is he's a terrific character and he'll bounce back."

Listen: Radio Sport's Mark Watson talks to Andrew McFadden

After arriving in Auckland over the offseason, as one of the Warriors marquee signings along with hooker Issac Luke, the 22-year-old former Sydney Roosters premiership winner's season has been cut short just as he was beginning to look comfortable in his new surroundings.

Having come close last season to becoming the first player in the NRL to run more than 6000 metres (5767 metres), the former Otahuhu College student was again ahead of the pack early this year, averaging close to 200 metres in each game with the ball in hand.

After taking some time to settle in to the Warriors spine, his combinations with Shaun Johnson, Luke and Tui Lolohea were starting to gel, and he showed his worth as a match-winner by racing almost 50 metres to score in the round five golden point win over his former club the Roosters.

McFadden accepts his loss will be difficult to overcome, but in Lolohea, who starred after shifting from five-eighth to cover Tuivasa-Sheck's absence at the back, he has a ready-made replacement, while the timely return of Thomas Leuluai means the Warriors also have an experienced campaigner to partner No7 Johnson in the halves.

Tui Lolohea will return to fullback to cover Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's absence for the Warriors. Photo/Getty.
Tui Lolohea will return to fullback to cover Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's absence for the Warriors. Photo/Getty.

"It's massive there's no doubt about it," he said. "But for us as an organisation we just have to move past this. We can't dwell on it for too long.

"They (Lolohea and Leuluai) did a terrific job on the weekend.

"Thomas hadn't practiced at all in the halves, we'd been focussing on him playing hooker and in the middle third of the field but he did a great job.

"And Tui's played fullback before and in some ways that's his favourite position.

"That's the way we'll go at the moment. It's going to take a bit of time but we'll get there."

Lolohea, who made his test debut for the Kiwis at halfback in the first test of the end of year tour to England last season, could yet come into New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney's plans as he considers who to use at fullback against Australia.

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