New Zealand Warriors skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has confirmed he's switching codes and signing with NZ Rugby to chase his All Blacks dream.
The Warriors have agreed to release Tuivasa-Sheck from the final year of his contract, as he attempts to secure a spot in the All Blacks side for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
The 27-year-old will play out the 2021 season with the NRL club, before switching codes and turning his attention to union.
"Roger has earned the respect from the club to come forward and sit with us, and determine to the decision we have come to," Warriors chief executive Cameron George says. "We wish Roger all the best in 2022 and beyond."
Tuivasa-Sheck insists his focus remains on the 2021 NRL season and is excited for the year ahead.
"2021 is my focus here and with this club and players," he says. "I'm excited about this year and so should the fans."
The league fullback has not confirmed which Super Rugby side he will join, as those discussions continue.
He declined to go into details about the code switch but is expected to play fullback or wing in rugby, and will have 18 months to crack the All Blacks squad ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
If Tuivasa-Sheck does return to rugby league in the future, the Warriors will have the first crack at re-signing him.
After beginning his NRL career with the Sydney Roosters way back in 2012, the 27-year-old said he made the big decision a few months ago and now was the right time to announce the decision with the full backing of his teammates.
"My teammates have been awesome at supporting me and there will be a few jokes here and there for the next few weeks," he says. "I fronted them before I got a tip about how it would drop in the media.
"I wish I could've announced it properly and let them know first and in a better way but the boys have been really supportive."
The Warriors captain is excited to return the 15-a-side code.
"Rugby is the game I grew up playing and rugby is where I started playing my junior footy," he says. "I played rugby right through, so it's always been there in the background and to do it at a time like this, with the club's support, is why I made the decision now.
The biggest task now for the Warriors will be replacing the 2018 Dally-M Medal winner and that certainly won't be easy. Warriors coach hopes he can get the club to a place where they can replace him with a young player.
"Anytime you have a player of Tuivasa-Sheck's quality and age when he's starting to come into his prime, it isn't the plan to lose a player of his calibre and when their best years are now and still coming," Warriors coach Nathan Brown says.
"We need to get the club to the stage where we are developing a lot of good young players and if the club is really strong and we lose a player like Roger and we can't replace him within or have the ability to attract another player to replace Roger and that is the chchallengeor the club."