David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

NRL: Roosters legend Anthony Minichiello praises Warriors captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's 'unbelievable' defence

Sydney Roosters premiership winning captain Anthony Minichiello has praised Warriors skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's inspirational try-saving defensive effort in yesterday's gritty 14-13 NRL victory.

The Roosters were trailing by two points 10 minutes into the second-half when back-rower Boyd Cordner burst down a short side with two teammates in support and only Tuivasa-Sheck to beat.

The Warriors fullback made two stunning tackles in the one play to deny the visitors a certain four-pointer when the Kangaroos forward turned him inside-out before passing infield to Roosters hooker Jake Friend.

Tuivasa-Sheck's diving tackle stopped Friend short of the line but he managed an offload to Roosters fullback Michael Gordon before Tuivasa-Sheck again arrived to hold Gordon up over the line.

Minichiello, who mentored Tuivasa-Sheck and oversaw his transition from winger to fullback during three seasons at the Roosters before retiring in 2014, praised the Kiwis international's desperate effort.

"That was unbelievable," said Minichiello. "That was an opportunity for us that we probably should have taken but Roger's defensive play was outstanding and saved the day for the Warriors."

Tuivasa-Sheck's back to back try saving tackles

Tuivasa-Sheck's remarkable double effort was an example of the 23-year-old's relentless competitiveness that convinced coach Stephen Kearney that he was the right man to lead the Warriors this season.

The play lifted his teammates while they were starved of the football for almost seven minutes as they continually turned the Roosters away through five consecutive sets on their own line.

The visitors eventually gave up trying to find a way through their watertight defence and opted to go for goal with Gordon kicking a penalty to draw level at 12-12 in the 57th minute.

The Roosters looked assured of victory after Mitchell Pearce nailed a field goal with five minutes remaining before the Warriors stole the result through a Shaun Johnson penalty in the 79th minute.

"He's doing a fantastic job," said Minichiello. "For a young guy to be named captain, sometimes it's quite hard. He's got older guys and older leaders in the team as well but he's a guy that's a winner.

"He just wants to be the best. He was always asking questions and is always willing to learn and those guys are rare in the game and that's why you'll see his career will be decorated for sure.

"He's got the drive to succeed and he'll succeed here at the Warriors and certainly as captain as well."

Reflecting on his split-second decision to hold off on tackling Cordner, Tuivasa-Sheck explained he was always confident of cutting his former teammate down before staying alive to deny Friend.

"I can't really (explain it), it was all just too fast," said Tuivasa-Sheck.

"I knew Boyd was on my outside so I let him go and thought I could chase him down later, but when he passed it early I just shot off on to Friendy."

Cordner admitted he could have done more to draw Tuivasa-Sheck before passing but thought Friend would shuffle the ball on for Gordon to run in and score.

"(Roger) just backed off there and I saw Friendy and Mick Gordon inside me as well," said Cordner.

"I thought if I gave Friendy a bit of time there then he would have had Mick on his inside as well.

"But he took him on and in hindsight I probably could have done a bit better for the team there."

Tuivasa-Sheck's outstanding early season form yesterday earned him a recall to the Kiwis side for Friday's Anzac test against Australia.

His selection comes after he overcame a season-ending ACL injury that limited him to just seven games for the Warriors last year in his first season at the club.

Minichiello is not surprised by his classy return and warns opposition sides he will only get better as his match fitness continues to improve.

"One hundred per cent. That was a major injury and to come back and still have that powerful left step and speed is incredible so he's only going get better and better this year."

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW
Stats provided by

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 23 May 2017 14:52:37 Processing Time: 336ms