NRL: Why Roger Tuivasa-Sheck decided to return to NZ Warriors

All Blacks midfielder Roger Tuivasa-Sheck admits there are a couple of key factors behind his decision to switch back to the sport where he first made his mark as a professional athlete.

NZ Warriors have revealed they have lured their former captain back to Mt Smart Stadium on a three-year deal, starting in 2024, after a relatively brief flirtation with the 15-man code.

Out of respect for the Blues, Tuivasa-Sheck is reluctant to delve into any detail about his imminent departure, dismissing such queries until his tenure officially ends later this year, but the former Dally M Medal winner admits the Warriors' current resurgence under coach Andrew Webster has influenced his decision.

Currently third on the NRL ladder, they look transformed and Tuivasa-Sheck says a chance to rekindle his relationship with Webster - who was an assistant at at the Warriors during his first season in Auckland - in a newlook squad certainly appealed.

"Andrew and the club's success at the moment definitely played a role in it," Tuivasa-Sheck admitted. "Those are Warriors and rugby league details I'll get to later on in the year, but I'd like to say the way the club are playing definitely helped in the decisionmaking."

In 2021, Tuivasa-Sheck left the club after 111 NRL appearances across six seasons, with his sights on fulfilling his longtime dream of becoming an All Black.

While his play with the Blues earned him a call-up to test level, he has struggled to cement a place in the gameday squad, coming off the bench for all but one of his three international caps.

His form with the Blues this season has been underwhelming, while a hand injury has forced him to the sidelines since mid-March.

Widespread speculation suggested Tuivasa-Sheck would follow in the footsteps of some of his high-profile teammates by taking up a deal in Japan, when his contract with NZR expired at the end of this season.

Tuivasa-Sheck confirms he was approached by Japanese clubs, but said the appeal of keeping his young family at home was too strong, particularly after spending two years based in Australia with the Warriors during the height of COVID-19.

"We were pretty fortunate that we had interest offshore, but the first thing we decided is that we want to be at home," he said.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck addresses media on Friday.
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck addresses media on Friday. Photo credit: Getty Images

"We love it here in Auckland and we love New Zealand. I want my kids to run around with their cousins and grow up  in this lifestyle.

"That was the first choice, and I'm glad that I'm staying home and that my future is secured here in New Zealand."

Now a father to three children, Tuivasa-Sheck, 29, says his focus and priorities have shifted as he's grown as a parent.

"It's massive with family," he added. "That's why I play the game.

"As I've grown up, I've played to make my parents proud. Now that I'm a parent myself, I play to make my kids proud.

"I play to feed my kids and that's what I do now. Securing a long-term deal back home is really important to me and I'm really blessed that I can do that."

Tuivasa-Sheck adds he's been flattered by the outpouring of support since his decision went public, both from the public and his Blues teammates, whom he confesses he was nervous about informing.

"It's been awesome the support I've been getting. It was definitely nervous times, but I'm glad I came out and put it out there, not just from the league side, but for my guys here [at the Blues].

"They supported me and I've been getting a lot of support from right across New Zealand. I'm grateful, but now it's back to work."

As for the rest of this season, Tuivasa-Sheck insisted he has no expectations.

"Who knows," he said. "I'm glad I've fronted where my future is going to be and now I can just enjoy the moment.

"I'm a Blues man for the rest of this year and I'll just enjoy every moment, and whatever happens from here is going to happen."

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