ZB

'Every chance in the world': Hansen backs RTS for All Blacks

Author
Christopher Reive, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 18 Feb 2022, 11:33am
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck will play for the Blues this Super Rugby Pacific season. (Photo / Photosport)
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck will play for the Blues this Super Rugby Pacific season. (Photo / Photosport)

'Every chance in the world': Hansen backs RTS for All Blacks

Author
Christopher Reive, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 18 Feb 2022, 11:33am

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck will return to rugby this season with the eyes of the nation upon him. 

During his time in the NRL, the 28-year-old became a superstar with his dynamic attacking abilities and rapid turn of foot. Like all high-profile code-hoppers, there will be plenty of fans keeping an eye on how he fares after the move and to what level he can reach in the game. 

For former All Blacks coach Sir Steve Hansen, that level could be the very top of the game. 

Speaking to Newstalk ZB's D'Arcy Waldegrave, Hansen had no hesitation when asked if he thought Tuivasa-Sheck could play his way into the All Blacks squad. 

"He's a superb athlete, and he's not coming in 100 per cent cold, is he?" Hansen said. "He played for New Zealand schoolboys so he's played the game before, he's got an understanding of it, so you could say he's returning to rugby. 

"He's got every chance in the world, I think, because of his natural talent, because of the fact that he understands the game already – albeit at a lower level – he's got a great mentor in Leon Macdonald up there, he's doing a fantastic job, so I think he's got a real chance. 

"If he plays well, why wouldn't Fozzy and his team be excited about having him? He's an athlete and a half." 

Upon learning of his signing with the Blues, there was plenty of interest in what position he would be deployed in. While he played on the wing and at fullback in the NRL and is capable of playing in the outside back in the 15-man code, the Blues revealed they had plans to play him in the midfield, a position he is familiar with having played it in high school. 

However, that could make his path to a potential All Blacks call up at the more challenging with the midfield being a tightly contested position in the national squad in recent seasons. Anton Lienert-Brown and Jack Goodhue have been the incumbents in recent seasons, though Goodhue being injury has seen the rise of Quinn Tupaea, David Havili and Braydon Ennor at the test level, with Tuivasa-Sheck just adding another name to the list of potential selections. 

While he was had some preseason footy under his belt, all eyes will be on Tuivasa-Sheck when he makes his official Blues debut next weekend – having to wait a touch longer after their opening game of the season was postponed due to Covid-19 in the Moana Pasifika camp.