Roger brings x-factor to Roosters
He may have laid on the match-winner for Boyd Cordner but Sydney Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce believes that the added influence of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is the x-factor the defending premiers need in order to win back-to-back premierships.
Showing belief that only comes from winning titles, the Roosters fought back from eight points down with five minutes remaining to defeat the Broncos 30-26 at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night with Pearce's sublime pass for Cordner snatching the two competition points in the 79th minute.
But it was Tuivasa-Sheck who dragged his side back to within reach with a superb individual try in the 76th minute courtesy of his trademark fast feet and his 107 metres were the most by any Roosters player.
You can call it succession-planning or job sharing but Roosters coach Trent Robinson has given Tuivasa-Sheck greater licence to come in off his right wing and swap with veteran fullback Anthony Minichiello, and Pearce believes it is a formula that will deliver exciting results.
"It's massive," Pearce said of the added input from Tuivasa-Sheck. "Some of the plays that Roger came up with, a couple of our shapes pulled them apart tonight and Roger adds another dimension to our attack there.
"He's got great feet and he's got a great passing game and the fullbacks that are effective in today's game have got all those skills and he's going to be a special player. He already is.
"'Minza' plays at fullback [in the Roosters half] and he's a great support player and takes a lot of great carries for us and is great for us in defence and then once we get over halfway Roger jumps in there as a bit of X-factor.
"It's not too much of a change and 'Minza' probably enjoys it out there, he scores a few more tries."
Seen as the logical successor at fullback when Minichiello's glittering career comes to a close, Tuivasa-Sheck himself is enjoying getting his hands on the ball more often in attacking opportunities but insists the switching between wing and fullback is still very much on trial.
"Especially into our attack, that's the game I like to play and he's given me that role so I'm real happy to accept that and go with it," the 20-year-old said. "It's worked out pretty well for this game and I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time.
"It's sort of still just a trial, me and Mini just switching and we're still working on it, trying to find the right time to do that. I'm trying to get into the middle and do a bit more attacking and Mini doing a little bit more catching under the high ball.
"When Mini turns and finds me he makes that call because Mini is the dominant fullback for defending, I sort of just slip into attack. We're still working on that and still finding ourselves stuck in our positions, if we can't make it we just make that call, wave out or something. If the transition is easy to make we'll make it but we're still working on the cues and that."
Friday night's victory over the Broncos adds even further belief for the Roosters that they are never out of the contest but Tuivasa-Sheck told NRL.com that they have to return to the traits that took them to the title in 2013 if they hope to defeat Manly next weekend.
"We're not there yet," Tuivasa-Sheck said of the Roosters' form to start 2014. "We sort of won this game on talent but we've based our game on hard work and we found that we're not there yet, especially with them catching us out on short sides and things like that.
"Manly will really test us so we've got to go back to training and think of where we want to be and who we are again and go back to those little trademarks."