All Blacks centre to make shock return to Rugby League
NEWS: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is set to make a shock return to Rugby League, after agreeing to leave the XV-man game and inking a three-year deal with the Warriors from 2024.
A Dally M Medallist in 2018, Tuivasa-Sheck left the NRL midway through 2021 after signing to move to the Auckland-based Blues before making his All Blacks debut last year.
Tuivasa-Sheck’s Blues deal expires at the end of this year, and it had been speculated he could move to Japanese club rugby next season.
But the 29-year-old will instead return to the Warriors, having previously captained the club and played 111 of his 195 NRL matches for them.
“It’s hugely exciting knowing Roger is coming back to us, back to his home at Mt Smart Stadium,” Warriors CEO Cameron George said.
“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.”
The fullback’s return marks a significant coup for not just the Warriors but the NRL, after young gun Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii signed to move the opposite way last month.
A dual international, Tuivasa-Sheck’s return will also be an immediate boost to the 13-man game in New Zealand after previously playing 20 Tests for the Kiwis and being named Golden Boot winner in 2019.
One of the game’s most dangerous attackers when at his best, he will rejoin a Warriors team that is clearly on the up after three years spent based in Australia due to COVID-19.
With new coach Andrew Webster at the helm, the Warriors have won five of their opening seven games to sit third on the ladder while packing their home ground in Auckland.
“Roger came to the club in my second season as an assistant coach in 2016 and he had a huge impact on the squad,” Webster said.
“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.”
A NRL premiership-winner at the Sydney Roosters, Tuivasa-Sheck has not turned out for the Blues since March after suffering a hand injury.
He posted an image of himself in a Warriors jersey on Thursday to confirm his return, while insistent he was focused on the Blues for the rest of this year.
“Out of respect for the Blues, my teammates, coaches and of course the fans, I’m not going into too much detail about my next move,” Tuivasa-Sheck said in a statement.
“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.”
“I’m a Blues man now and that’s where all my energy is going.
“We have an important run of games coming up as we push for a playoffs spot and ensuring we finish as high on the table as possible.
“In the immediate future I want to get my injured hand sorted so I’m back and available to help this team in any way I can for the remainder of 2023.”