Warriors coach Stephen Kearney was full of praise for captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's impressive all-round display in last night's historic 32-20 NRL win over South Sydney in Perth.

The 24-year-old fullback set the tone for a gutsy defensive effort from his side when he made an early try-saving tackle on his Rabbitohs opposite Alex Johnston, while on attack both he and star halfback Shaun Johnson posed constant problems for the Rabbitohs at Optus Stadium.

Johnston looked certain to score in the second minute of the match before the Kiwis No1 made strong contact to wrap the ball up and bundle him over the sideline to give the Warriors a boost of confidence.

"It was just something I had to do for the team and it presented itself and I just didn't want to miss," said Tuivasa-Sheck.


"We've been talking about playing with a lot of energy and I just tried to give the team that after the tackle and build from there.

"It was a good moment."

Halfback Shaun Johnson carved up the Rabbitohs left-edge defence. Photo / Getty Images.
Halfback Shaun Johnson carved up the Rabbitohs left-edge defence. Photo / Getty Images.

Kearney was pleased with Tuivasa-Sheck's leadership and contribution and was satisfied with his team's ability to hang on defensively before claiming a 20-10 halftime lead.

"He came up with some tremendous tackles early in the game and constantly put himself in the contest," said Kearney.

"That's what you expect from Rog. He sets such a high standard and it's not often that he doesn't deliver on it.

"There was a tremendous period for us in that the only way they were getting momentum was through our penalties and the way the guys for the most part stuck at it and turned them away.

"I know Rog saved one there and there was another one saved under the posts in the first half.

"We had a bit of a plan and knew if we stuck to it we could get some results off the back of it and the guys did that fairly well."


All of the Warriors spine players were sharp, with Johnson running freely and combining well with new five-eighth Blake Green, and hooker Issac Luke producing his best performance since joining the club from the Rabbitohs in 2016.

Johnson's cross-field kick resulted in a try to front-rower Sam Lisone before he set up two more tries for right wing David Fusitu'a in the first half.

Tuivasa-Sheck then helped create two second-half tries down the left side, firing a cut-out ball for wing Ken Maumalo to stroll in, before linking with Johnson and delivering a short ball for centre Solomone Kata to power over.

New Warriors five-eighth Blake Green combined well with Johnson. Photo / Getty Images.
New Warriors five-eighth Blake Green combined well with Johnson. Photo / Getty Images.

"The team just played well for me to feel a bit freer," he said.

"Everyone just put in what they needed to do. Everyone's been training well, combinations have been coming together well, and this allows me to be more free and everyone else to just play their game.

"We can all build from here."


The Warriors looked much fitter than they were last season, but they conceded too many penalties in the first half and dropped their intensity as the Rabbitohs crossed for two late tries.

Kearney wasn't getting carried away with the first-up victory and said his players need to repeat the effort next Saturday in their first home game against the Gold Coast Titans.

"It's round one. We had a fair bit of possession," he said

"I'm not saying they're not fit. Obviously they did a pretty good job to come home strong there, but my point is we've got a lot of improvement in us.

"The back end of the second-half we can really tidy up. And in fairness South Sydney have a couple of guys there that have really just come back to footy.

"What I'm saying is there's another challenge next week.


"We'll enjoy what happened here tonight but our focus will shift pretty much immediately to next week."

To get the day's top sports stories in your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here