Kiwis fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has revealed he turned down overtures from Martin Taupau to join him in the Samoan squad.

The application of league's eligibility rules have come into focus again this week, after Taupau and Jamayne Issako switched allegiances from New Zealand to Samoa ahead of this representative window, deciding to align with their country of heritage.

Tuivasa-Sheck is one of five players in the current Kiwis squad with Samoan heritage, and by far the highest profile of that quintet.

The 25-year-old told the Herald that his former teammate Taupau enquired if he would be interested to join him in playing in blue, instead of black and white.


"I messaged him when he made the announcement and I wished him all the best," Tuivasa-Sheck told the Herald. "He asked me if I wanted to come over but I told him I'm happy where I am at this stage of my career. He said he was hoping [I would] but he respected what I had to say, so I have a lot of respect for him."

Martin Taupau. Photo / Photosport
Martin Taupau. Photo / Photosport

If the Warriors captain decided to represent Toa Samoa it would be a seismic shock, possibly even bigger than Jason Taumalolo's 2017 switch to Tonga, given Tuivasa-Sheck's status in this country, but he is staying put.

"I'm enjoying the Kiwis and will continue playing for them," said Tuivasa-Sheck. "I wish [Taupau] all the best and I still back the team as a Samoan and it is definitely close to my heart.

"[But] I look at my career and where I am at right now. I have been on a good journey, learning a lot and I put it down to times like this, coming into a camp like this.

"I'm committed to the Kiwis and I have spoken to Madge (Michael Maguire) about where we want to take this. We are on a journey and I am looking forward to where we go with this."

That journey starts again on Saturday, in Tuivasa-Sheck's first Kiwis outing in more than 18 months.

His last international win came against Scotland at the 2017 World Cup, before consecutive upset losses to Tonga and Fiji.

That defeat to the Pacific Island team still stings, though Tuivasa-Sheck concedes it was an unforgettable occasion in Hamilton.

"The red flags, the noise, the Tongan fans, they just didn't stop right from when we were warming up to the end of the game," said Tuivasa-Sheck. "They were loud and they just kept coming."

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

The Kiwis led 16-2 at halftime that day, before a frenzied burst of four tries in 17 second half minutes from Tonga. Tuivasa-Sheck got his second try to haul the Kiwis close, before David Fusitu'a claimed his hat-trick and the game, 28-22.

"We started well, stuck to the game plan, put fatigue into them and that worked," says Tuivasa-Sheck. "[But in the second half] we gave Tonga that small gap and they just took it, they jumped on it.

"Like their crowd, it was like a wave, just coming and you couldn't stop it. That's the type of players they had and the pressure was put on us."

Despite the disappointment, Tuivasa-Sheck doesn't see Saturday as a 'grudge match', as has been hyped in some quarters, but is looking forward to being part of the Kiwis machine again.

"It's good to be around some of the boys doing well for their clubs. They are on form and have some good vibes around them."

And like the rest of the league nation, Tuivasa-Sheck is particularly happy for Benji Marshall, returning to the Kiwis fold after almost seven years.

"I remember watching him as a young fellow, when he had that Mohawk mullet going so I'm buzzed to be playing with him," said Tuivasa-Sheck. "He's earned his stripes. He's gone to different clubs, he's bounced around and now he is back playing good football and he deserves to be here."