Warriors superstar Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has finally found top form because the finish line is in sight.

That's the word from outgoing Warriors coach Todd Payten, before Sunday's "dead" NRL match against Canberra.

Tuivasa-Sheck's statistics have been impressive all year but beyond the numbers, the fullback's influence on attack had been comparatively small.

That all changed late in the season though, as the captain became heavily involved in making and scoring often spectacular tries.

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Tuivasa-Sheck was the only Warriors player who did not have family with him in Australia, where the Warriors have been camped since round three.

In typically honest Payten fashion, the interim coach said the circumstances had hurt Tuivasa-Sheck's game during the year.

"At times he was frustrated, upset, disappointed … all those feelings which have affected some of his football and training," Payten told Newstalk ZB's D'Arcy Waldegrave.

"But during the last month he's seen the finish line in sight, been a lot clearer in his own mind and it's shown in his performance.

"He's led the club admirably. He felt obligated to lead the team, and done a really good job of that."

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck thanks the crowd after winning the round 16 NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and the Newcastle Knights in Tamworth. Photo / Getty
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck thanks the crowd after winning the round 16 NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and the Newcastle Knights in Tamworth. Photo / Getty

It has certainly been a season of extraordinary challenges for Tuivasa-Sheck, with coach Stephen Kearney sacked while the team was in Australia, his back-three mates David Fusitu'a and Ken Maumalo among the players returning to Auckland, and veteran playmaker Blake Green quitting for the Knights.

There are also simmering suggestions Tuivasa-Sheck will strongly consider a switch to rugby union if the Warriors must camp in Australia next year because of Covid-19.

If he wanted to return home immediately after the defeat to the Sharks – and there is no suggestion he did – there was no point. The Warriors' end-of-season charter will get him back to Auckland quicker than a commercial flight because seats are so scarce, Payten said.

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Tuivasa-Sheck must now try to ensure that his side finishes the season strongly, amid fears an exhausting campaign and failure to make the top eight will take a big toll on their final two performances.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck in open space during a round 15 game against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. Photo / Gregg Porteous / NRL Photos
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck in open space during a round 15 game against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. Photo / Gregg Porteous / NRL Photos

The Warriors have also lost their Parramatta loan players George Jennings and Daniel Alvaro, while prop Jamayne Taunoa-Brown is suspended.

The omens are ominous.

The Raiders are being led superbly by their power prop Josh Papali'i, and the Warriors face a tight travel schedule, leaving their base at 7.30am on match day, and arriving in Canberra just three hours before the 2pm kickoff.

Payten said he wanted the Warriors to retain the credibility built up during the year, but he was clearly worried about a soft showing.

"It is a concern, we've addressed it, spoken about what is ahead," he said.

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Highly-rated young forward Tom Ale will make his debut from the bench against the Raiders.