NRL: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's NZ Warriors return sparks optimism despite pre-season defeat to Wests Tigers

Not even a narrow pre-season defeat to NRL woodenspooners Wests Tigers could dampen the excitement around Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's NZ Warriors return at Christchurch.

With coach Andrew Webster resting most of his frontline performers, an understrength Warriors line-up was further depleted, when interchange forward Zyon Maiu'u was red-carded for a dangerous tackle 20 minutes in.

The home side did well to stay in the fight and desperately unlucky not to snatch a positive result, producing two late tries in three minutes, but missing a sideline conversion that would have levelled the score.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck in action against Wests Tigers.
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck in action against Wests Tigers. Photo credit: Photosport

Undoubtedly, Tuivasa-Sheck was the star of the show, returning from a stint in rugby union and introduced to the centres, after building his reputation at wing or fullback earlier in this league career.

"It felt real good after a touch pre-season," he told Newshub. "We out there to put our combos on and it felt good.

"It was definitely tough with just 12 of us, but a lot of credit to our boys for showing up and sticking at it. We didn't get blown away and we didn't want that.

"We didn't win, that was the tough part, but credit to the boys for sticking at it."

Another returning to the club after time away is five-eighth Chanel Harris-Tavita, who obviously relished playing with his former skipper.

"Roger's a freak," he told Newshub. "Webby told me before the game, 'I want you to run the ball early'.

"When I caught the ball, I passed it to Roger and he beat about three people. I thought I'd rather pass it to him and him break some tackles than me take some tackles.

"As much ball as we can get into Roger's hands, the better we will be as a team."

Halves partner Luke Metcalfe agrees.

"He only played about 60 minutes today, but you can see the X-factor is just crazy," he said. "I'm so excited to play with him this year, I can't wait - it will be sick."

The Warriors - probably nearer fullstrength - will face the Dolphins in another pre-season hitout at Go Media Stadium Mt Smart next Saturday.