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19 Feb 2018 18:39
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  •   Home > News > Sports > Rugby League

    Kiwis hard graft to aid free-roaming RTS

    Kiwis ace Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is licking his lips at the prospect of playing behind a dominant pack in Saturday's Rugby League World Cup opener against Samoa.

    - article from

    Stephen Kearney
    Stephen Kearney

    Having played behind a floundering Warriors pack for much of 2017, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck says he can't wait to capitalise upon the graft of props Adam Blair and Marty Taupau in Saturday's clash with Samoa.

    Kiwis skipper Blair and Manly-based enforcer Taupau - as well as reserve Russell Packer - will lay the platform for Tuivasa-Sheck and company in Auckland, as they look to start their Rugby League World Cup with a bang.

    For Tuivasa-Sheck, it'll be a long time coming.

    In his debut NRL campaign as Warriors captain, the 24-year-old fullback rarely received quality service from his props and second-rowers.

    Of the NRL's 16 teams, the Warriors were 10th on overall running metres and third-last on offloads, punting on a more cautious style under Stephen Kearney.

    They ultimately finished 13th, well out of finals contention.

    Tuivasa-Sheck hoped for more luck in the black and white jumper.

    But achieving pack dominance will be easier said than done against Toa Samoa, who can call upon monster forwards including Junior Paulo and Josh Papalii.

    "Playing and training behind these guys, I haven't been feeling that much pressure - more excitement with the ball in hand," Tuivasa-Sheck said.

    "With Marty, the way he can offload, Adam Blair, all of that.

    "Defensively, these guys will match up well against Samoa, Marty's a pretty big guy and there's a few big dudes in the other team so it'll be good."

    Tuivasa-Sheck - who will play against four Warriors teammates in the Toa Samoa squad - has plenty of history with this weekend's Polynesian opponents.

    Born in the Samoan capital of Apia, Tuivasa-Sheck moved to Auckland as a young child and went on to make his Test debut against his birth nation in 2013.

    But on Saturday, it'll be all business.

    Tuivasa-Sheck said he'd look to play more freely under coach David Kidwell's new tactical set-up, dropping in and out of the Kiwis' attack.

    It'd be a testing match against a high-quality Samoan outfit.

    "He sort of gives us a bit of license to float around players, because that's the sort of Kiwis style he wants - go down short-side if there's a mismatch, take them on if there's a back-rower fatigued," Tuivasa-Sheck said.

    "Plays like that, just shifting to where we find we can really explore the weaknesses of the other team."


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