NRL: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad facing battle to secure NZ Warriors' fullback position in 2024

NZ Warriors fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad would be forgiven for feeling any frustration at the return of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck in 2024, with both players fighting for the No.1 jersey.

With Tuivasa-Sheck, 29, to return to rugby league next year after a code switch to rugby union - speculation over where he'll play for the Warriors next year is natural.

In his first stint with the Warriors, Tuivasa-Sheck proved time and time again to be one of the NRL's premier fullbacks, even winning the coveted Dally M medal for his efforts in 2018.

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad scores against Newcastle Knights.
Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad scores against Newcastle Knights. Photo credit: Photosport

But when Tuivasa-Sheck left the club in 2021 to chase his aspirations of being an All Black, the Warriors were left with a large hole at the back. 

Australian wonderkid Reece Walsh shone brightly in his brief time with the Warriors, before returning to Brisbane Broncos and allowing the club to re-sign Nicoll-Klokstad from Canberra Raiders.

That return has proven to be a masterstroke from Warriors management, with Nicoll-Klokstad impressing on his return to Auckland as the team enjoys renewed success under new coach Andrew Webster.

So far this season, Nicoll-Klokstad has scored one try, made one assist and averages 185 running metres per game on the attack, to go with 30 tackles at a success rate of 88 percent in defence.

In 2018, Nicoll-Klokstad chose to leave his hometown club to join Canberra after finding game time hard to come by.

Capable of playing in nearly every position in the backline, Nicoll-Klokstad couldn't displace Tuivasa-Sheck at fullback - nor one of David Fusitu'a and Ken Maumalo on the wings. 

That time away was the making of Nicoll-Klokstad, though, and transformed himself to one of the game's best fullbacks, including a run to the NRL's grand final in 2019. 

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck will rejoin NZ Warriors in 2024.
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck will rejoin NZ Warriors in 2024. Photo credit: Getty Images

Fast forward to 2024, and the same problem could feature again - with Tuivasa-Sheck, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and Ed Kosi all giving competition for starting spots.

Further competition could also come from the pair of Marcelo Montoya and Adam Pompey, both off-contract at the end of 2023, should the Warriors choose to re-sign either or both players.

Speaking on Friday after confirming his NRL return, Tuivasa-Sheck complimented Nicoll-Klokstad but didn't want to be drawn on any battle for the No.1 jersey next season.

Instead, Tuivasa-Sheck will spend the rest of the year concentrating on the 15-a-side game, as he bids to win Super Rugby with the Blues to push for a spot at the Rugby World Cup with the All Blacks. 

"I always knew Charnze was going to be an outstanding player," said Tuivasa-Sheck. "He was special when we were together at the Warriors, and he's special today.

"But positioning will be [the] details to follow later in the year. We're on Blues ground at the moment, and we've got to respect that.

"I love that I've secured my future, but at this stage, I'm talking rugby today - and to the end of this year."

Nicoll-Klokstad could also potentially line up in the centres once Tuivasa-Sheck returns to the Warriors, after making his name there during his time with the Junior Warriors before making his first-grade debut in 2017. Nicoll-Klokstad also featured in the centres for NZ Kiwis at last year's Rugby League World Cup, including in the narrow semi-final loss to Australia.