NRL: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck confirms shock return to NZ Warriors

All Blacks midfielder Roger Tuivasa-Sheck will make a shock switch back to rugby league.

On Thursday, NZ Warriors announced they'd signed their former captain on a three-year deal to return to Mt Smart Stadium.

Tuivasa-Sheck played six seasons with the Auckland-based club, before switching to rugby to chase his dream of playing for the All Blacks.

He made his test debut against Ireland last July but has struggled to cement a regular spot in the All Blacks squad. His contract with NZ Rugby expires at the end of this year. 

The 29-year-old had been eager to keep the news under wraps, with his focus on earning a spot in Ian Foster's squad for the upcoming World Cup and helping the Blues to a Super Rugby Pacific title.

"Out of respect for the Blues, my team-mates, coaches and of course the fans, I'm not going into too much detail about my next move," said Tuivasa-Sheck.

Tuivasa-Sheck has earned three caps for the All Blacks.
Tuivasa-Sheck has earned three caps for the All Blacks. Photo credit: Getty Images

"One thing was clear to me though, once I knew what my future held, I wanted to announce this and quickly shift the focus back to this season."

Since his Super Rugby debut last year, he's made 15 appearances for the Blues, although a hand injury has sidelined him since mid-March.

Newshub understands talks with Warriors chief executive Cam George progressed rapidly amid the team's hugely improved form to start the NRL season, sitting third in the competition standings after seven rounds.

"It's hugely exciting knowing Roger is coming back to us, back to his home at Mount Smart Stadium," said George.

"When he went to rugby union, he did so knowing he was always welcome back here if he wished to return to rugby league. We couldn't be more delighted it's happening.

"He's popular with the players and a real fan favourite. It’s going to be so good seeing him back in our jersey."

New Warriors head coach Andrew Webster said he's looking forward to renewing his relationship with Tuivasa-Sheck, who he's familiar with from his first stint with the club as an assistant in 2016.

"He had a huge impact on the squad,” said Webster. "That first year was cut short by his ACL injury but it was brilliant working with him.

"I'm super excited knowing he’s coming back to the club."

Through his 10 prior seasons in the NRL, both with Sydney Roosters and the Warriors, Tuivasa-Sheck forged a reputation as one of the competition's premier fullbacks.

In 2018, he won the prestigious Dally M medal as the NRL's best player - the first Warrior to receive the award.

Before switching to the 15-man code, Tuivasa-Sheck had made 111 appearances for the Warriors from 2016-2021 and represented New Zealand 20 times on the international stage.

Blues head coach Leon MacDonald said Tuivasa-Sheck has played a significant role in his relatively brief tenure with the club. 

"It takes a special kind of athlete to do what Roger has done," said MacDonald. "He was really finding his feet in the midfield early on this season before picking up an injury.

"The work ethic and diligence he's put into his craft in his time with the Blues is certainly something he can be proud of."