Super Rugby: Blues taking cautious approach to Roger Tuivasa-Sheck future after Trans-Tasman success

Blues coach Leon MacDonald has no preconceptions over how incoming league superstar Roger Tuivasa-Sheck will fit into his triumphant Super Rugby Trans-Tasman line-up next season.

The NZ Warriors skipper will switch to the 15-man code after the current NRL campaign and may even cut his teeth with Auckland in this year's National Provincial Championship.

His move marks a return to rugby, where he starred in junior ranks, before embarking on an illustrious rugby league career that saw him win a 2013 premiership with Sydney Roosters and the 2018 Dally M Medal as the competition's outstanding player with the Warriors.

"Roger played midfield at school and obviously plays in the outside backs at league," says MacDonald. "I think we'd be foolish to make a call on that right now.

"He hasn't even donned a rugby jersey yet - we've got to get him out of a Warriors jersey first.

"We're hoping to see him a little bit at Mitre 10 Cup later this year and they'll ease him back in. We share a building with Auckland, so we'll help him navigate his way through the learning of the game.

"It's really just a feel-out. We have the ability to change positions - Rieko [Ioane] can play midfield or wing, Roger could play on the wing early on, or at fullback or midfield. It's really what works out at the end and how it all folds together."

Even as their players celebrated the franchises' first major title in 18 years, MacDonald and Blues chief executive Andrew Hore were already considering their roster for next season, with Tuivasa-Sheck the biggest addition so far.

All Blacks star Beauden Barrett will return from his Japanese sabbatical, offsetting the expected departure of starting first-five Otere Black, also to Japan.

Flanker Blake Gibson, whose last-gasp try sealed victory against the Highlanders on Saturday, will also leave for another NZ Super Rugby team.

One name Hore is desperate to retain for next season is his coach, who left his assistant role with the all-conquering Crusaders and Tasman sides to take on a Blues outfit that had forgotten how to win. Ironically, MacDonald was on the losing Crusaders team, when the northerners won their last Super Rugby crown in 2003.  

"This means a huge amount to me, because we were shifting the family to Auckland, away from what we knew, and putting myself out there in an environment I wasn't familiar with and the players weren't familiar with me," he reflects. "In terms of risk, it was right up there.

"When I see the boys' faces out there on the grass and there were quite a few emotional guys, who have been around the club for a long time... it just meant so much to them.

"I don't want to be disrespectful to the Crusaders, but when I was there, we nearly expected to win titles, but here, this is huge for us."

Negotiations are ongoing for MacDonald's contract extension.

"I'm just trying to get a carpark at Alexandra Park," he chuckles, referring to the Blues training base.