Michael Burgess is a sports writer for the Herald on Sunday.

League: Warriors name Roger Tuivasa-Sheck captain

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. Photo / Photosport
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. Photo / Photosport

The appointment of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck as Warriors captain is a left field move - but there are plenty of reasons to be positive about the decision.

At first glance it is a surprise, as the former Roosters fullback wasn't on anyone's list of possible contenders.

But dig a little deeper and the move has merit.

Firstly, there weren't many other realistic candidates for the role.

Ryan Hoffman was associated with the old regime and symbolic of the failure of 2016. He is also in his last year at the club, with Stephen Kearney confirming on Radio Sport on Wednesday that Hoffman wouldn't be offered another contract, which meant the Warriors would be searching for another skipper in 2018.

Simon Mannering didn't want the job - and has found a new lease of life without the armband - and Issac Luke wouldn't cope with the off field demands of the job. Shaun Johnson already has enough on his plate and hasn't yet achieved the consistency needed from a captain and Ben Matulino isn't a natural leader.

There is some inherent risk involved with Tuivasa-Sheck inheriting the job, as he has limited captaincy experience and is coming back from the serious knee injury which ruined his 2016 season.

The Warriors have been a fragile, enigmatic team and the thought of another rookie captain will frighten some fans.

But it could be a masterstroke. When he returned to New Zealand Tuivasa-Sheck talked repeatedly of coming back for "the challenge" and he thrives on being outside his comfort zone.

Rather than being burdened by the demands of the job, it could drive him to higher standards.

Tuivasa-Sheck is a famously intense trainer, who sets a rare standard. He's won a premiership, and packed a lot of experience into his 23 years. As a teenager he established himself in a Roosters team full of hard heads - no mean feat - to become one of their best players.

Tuivasa-Sheck is also someone that can grow into the role - remember Mannering was also only 23 when he first got the job in 2009 - and has the respect of all the players at the club.

Crucially, the appointment may also secure Tuivasa-Sheck's future in Auckland, making him more likely to stay at Mt Smart beyond his current three year deal.

"I was really humbled when Mooks offered me the position," said Tuivasa-Sheck.

"It's a huge privilege to be captain and I'm excited about taking on the added responsibility."

Kearney has a close relationship with Tuivasa-Sheck, trusting him to essentially run the Kiwis backline on the 2015 tour of England, and obviously likes what he has seen.

"Roger offers all the qualities we want from our players," said Kearney. "He is a true professional in the way he goes about all he does, providing a wonderful example for players to follow."

Mannering will be a vital back up. He remained an important figure last year - often captured doing plenty of the talking in the huddles behind the goal posts - and deserves the chance to finish his Warriors career in such a role.

The capture of Tohu Harris is a significant signing. He'll be a ready-made replacement for Hoffman and has the best years of his career ahead of him. Though some players have struggled to perform outside the Storm system, they'll be no such concerns about the ultra- consistent Harris. ​

- NZ Herald

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