Rugby: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck will have to earn Blues spot, says Rieko Ioane

Shockwaves from NZ Warriors captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's rugby league exit to pursue an All Blacks jersey are still reverberating around the Kiwi sports community.

The 27-year-old hasn't formally announced his Super Rugby allegiance, but the Auckland resident is widely expected to sign with his hometown Blues, after he's completed his farewell 2021 NRL season.

And Blues pre-season training is already abuzz with the prospect of adding the Dally M Medal winner to their squad next year.

All Blacks threequarter Rieko Ioane is one player eager to see the league fullback in a different shade of blue jersey.

"It's still a year [away], but just the prospect of having that sort of talent inside you or outside you - or wherever he fits in - is definitely exciting," Ioane tells Newshub.

Dual international Sonny Bill Williams is upheld as one of the most successful examples of a rugby league convert, after representing the NZ Kiwis, winning NRL titles with Canterbury Bulldogs and Sydney Roosters, and Super Rugby titles with the Chiefs, and two Rugby World Cups with the All Blacks.

But unlike Williams, Tuivasa-Sheck has a background in the 15-man code, after playing for the NZ schoolboys team, while a student at Auckland's Otahuhu College in 2011. 

He was also a member of the Blues U18 development squad, before he committed fulltime to rugby league by signing with the Roosters.

Ioane believes that experience should help him make a relatively seamless transition back to union.

"I'm sure he'll transition pretty quick," says Ioane. "He's a footy player first and foremost, so I'm sure the change will come easy. 

“It's just the rules and learning the feel of the game, which is a lot different to league. I know Sonny [Bill Williams] struggled a bit at first, but I'm sure he'll fit in in due time."

Exactly where Tuivasa-Sheck will fit positionally has yet to be determined, although early indications are that he'll try to establish himself in a midfield role or even on the wing.

But the 2013 NRL premiership winner - where he played on the wing, before cementing his reputation in the No.1 jersey - shouldn't expect to walk straight into a starting berth, says Ioane.

The incumbent starting centre admits that Tuivasa-Sheck's presence should raise the bar even higher in an already competitive backline mix.

"He's a quality player in his own right," Ioane admits. "Whatever he brings - if he does come here - is definitely exciting.

"What he'll bring to Super Rugby will be awesome to see and I'm sure everyone will be watching him with a keen eye.

"But I know everyone will be battling for positions come next year and it will be as hard for him to make the team as it would be for him to keep others out."

As for more immediate matters, Ioane insists the Blues feel rejuvenated and ready to carry the momentum from their stellar 2020 season into a jam-packed schedule this year.

After years of underwhelming results, the franchise broke out of its doldrums, pushing the Crusaders to the limit in the inaugural Super Rugby Aotearoa.

That performance has raised the bar for Ioane and his teammates, and they realise they will have a different kind of target on their backs in 2021.

"We're coming in with a different feel, where there's a slight expectation about us now," Ioane notes.   

"We know that's going to be a challenge in itself . We're used to coming in after disappointing seasons, but after last year, it's a step in the right direction.

"Everyone's lifted their pre-season standard and I think having that expectation has given the group a good boost."