NRL: Why coach Andrew Webster doesn't want to see Roger Tuivasa-Sheck as NZ Warriors fullback - for now

He may be one of the best fullbacks in NZ Warriors history, but coach Andrew Webster hopes he won't have to see Roger Tuivasa-Sheck in the No.1 jersey just yet.  

Now back in Warriors colours after a stint in rugby with the Blues, Auckland and the All Blacks, Tuivasa-Sheck has returned to league with aplomb, playing at centre in an 18-16 pre-season defeat to Wests Tigers.  

In his first stint at Mt Smart, Tuivasa-Sheck was among the best fullbacks in the NRL and was awarded the 2018 Dally M Medal as a result - the first Warriors player to receive the honour.

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

During his time away, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad hasn't put a foot wrong as the Warriors' number one No.1 and has been backed by Webster to continue there, forcing Tuivasa-Sheck infield.  

Despite his performances in the Warriors' 2023 campaign, Nicoll-Klokstad has been hit by a hamstring injury and will be out of action until round four at the earliest.  

This weekend, when the Warriors face the Dolphins in their second and final pre-season trial, Tuivasa-Sheck will remain in the centres, while Taine Tuaupiki slots in at fullback.  

Tuaupiki, 24, deputised for Nicoll-Klokstad when needed in 2023 and didn't look out of place in the NRL, despite only playing five times.  

Now, as the start of the season approaches, Webster has made it clear that while Tuivasa-Sheck might be needed at fullback at some point, Tuaupiki is next cab off the rank to make the spot his own in Nicoll-Klokstad's absence.  

"Taine's it," said Webster. "I've said that from day one, I told Taine that last year, I told Roger that.

"I do believe, if Taine wasn't available for selection as well, for whatever reason, Roger would have to do a job there.  

"That's not to say we won't see Rog at some capacity at some stage there, but I'm hoping we don't have to, because then everyone's fit.  

"That's the way the cookie crumbles sometimes. It would be mad not to give Rog an opportunity at that and give him some reps at some stage, because that could happen as a back-up back- up."  

Instead, Tuivasa-Sheck will continue at centre, seemingly displacing Adam Pompey - who played all but a few minutes of 2023 - in the No.4 jersey.  

Taine Tuaupiki has impressed in limited opportunities for the Warriors.
Taine Tuaupiki has impressed in limited opportunities for the Warriors. Photo credit: Photosport

In particular, Tuivasa-Sheck has the chance to continue to build his combination on the left edge with winger Marcelo Montoya, with the other side filled by Rocco Berry and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.  

Showing the quality of a Dally M winner, Tuivasa-Sheck, 30, didn't look out of place for one second. In 60 minutes, he made 14 runs for 134 metres gained, along with two tackle breaks and one offload.  

That form has convinced his coach he's made the right call in moving him into the centres. 

"Awesome, I thought he played great," he added. "I thought he took his opportunities well, had some good carries.  

"He got to show his flare and come up with a ripper of a tackle [to] force an error.  I'm pumped for Rog, he was great." 

Join Newshub at 5:45pm Saturday for live updates of the Warriors v Dolphins pre-season clash