NRL: NZ Warriors teammates excited to see Roger Tuivasa-Sheck at fullback, coach Andrew Webster not so much

Fate, it seems, has driven former Dally M Medal-winning fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck into the NZ Warriors No.1 jersey against Newcastle Knights and his teammate can hardly contain their excitement.

Coach Andrew Webster isn't nearly as buoyant.

Tuivasa-Sheck is back in his natural position at training this week, with first-choice fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad still sidelined by a niggly hamstring and understudy Taine Tuaupiki under concussion protocols, after leaving the field against Canberra Raiders over the weekend.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck in action against Canberra Raiders.
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck in action against Canberra Raiders. Photo credit: Getty Images

Since the dual international announced he was ending his rugby experiment to return to the Warriors, Webster has insisted he was only third cab off the rank at the back and if he ended up there, it meant there were injury problems.

While Tuaupiki has done a great job filling in for Nicoll-Klokstad, Tuivasa-Sheck has had to cover his absence twice already this season, as the youngster underwent head checks. Against the Raiders, he did not return.

With Nicoll-Klokstad probably just a week away from selection, Webster has slammed the brakes on conjecture that Tuivasa-Sheck's move may yet become permanent.

"I've always said he's our third fullback and we've used two of them already," he reflected. "I thought Taine has done a fantastic job and was one of our best in the first three games.

"It allowed Roger to get to that centre role. Roger's been trying to focus at practice on centre, so he hasn't done a huge amount of reps - that was the first time he did that drill today and I thought he did a great job.

"Roger's wanted to play centre the whole time and do his bit for the team, but he always knew he'd be third man up and he welcomes the challenge.

"Roger's different, he's always been a team guy, but he knows he doesn't have to put the team on his back. He plays a role, he's another cog in the wheel - a very good one - but very important in his role and, this week, it's fullback."

Front-rower Bunty Afoa is among those happy to see the change.

"Personally, I'm pretty excited having Roger at the back," he said. "He's got the X-factor and brings that experience also.

"To see him with the ball and a bit of space, you get pretty scared, if you're a one-on-one defender. It will be awesome to see him at the back."

Veteran halfback Shaun Johnson understands what the selection means to the Warriors.

"I think probably the whole team, everyone involved in the joint - the fans included - are probably pretty excited to see him back at fullback," he said. "In saying that, Taine has done a great job and him copping a headknock is pretty unfortunate.

"Again, opportunity comes with that sort of thing and [Adam Pompey] comes back into the side, after playing every game for us last year, so I'm pretty excited to see him get his chance again."

Webster isn't interested in hearing how good Tuivasa-Sheck looks at fullback.

"He'd be great going back at centre," he grinned. "He'd be awesome."

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