A grand final winner and New Zealand international star, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has achieved more than is expected from a 21-year-old – and he owes at least some of his success to Raiders forward Frank-Paul Nuuausala.
Nuuausala, a former teammate of Tuivasa-Sheck's at the Roosters before being recruited by Canberra this season, was an unlikely inspiration for the fleet-footed youngster – and one who the man nicknamed 'RTS' will face off against this week.
Growing up 20 kilometres from Auckland in a suburb called Otara, Tuivasa-Sheck always looked up to fellow Otara local Nuuausala. Six years his senior, Nuuausala was a local hero for a young Tuivasa-Sheck as he worked his way through the junior rugby and league ranks.
"He lived down the road from me so he was definitely someone I looked up to. It's funny though because I knew of him but he didn't know me," Tuivasa-Sheck told NRL.com.
"I followed him and his story when I was still at home. Frank-Paul was one of my local heroes. He played with Sam Moa too in the juniors but I would see him and be like 'oh my, that's Frank-Paul'.
"I loved that he was from our not-so flash neighbourhood and made it as an NRL player. That was definitely used by me as motivation and inspiration to do the same."
So naturally Nuuausala took his fellow townsman under his wing when he arrived at the Roosters right? Well... not quite at first.
It took a few years for the veteran Nuuausala to warm to Tuivasa-Sheck, according to the young fullback.
Recalling one of their very first gym sessions together, Tuivasa-Sheck said he copped a huge dressing down from Nuuausala and feared he would never get the chance to become good mates.
"He scared me for a fair while there at first. I remember the one session with him in the gym and there was music playing and I went to change it and he just turned around and sprayed me to make me stop touching the music and I was like 'oh my gosh' and freaked out," Tuivasa-Sheck laughed.
"But as the years went on and we spoke more I told him I was from Otara too and that I grew up near him which was good then because we'd talk about home. I was just buzzing when he finally took me under his wing and showed me around, took me out to get feeds and stuff like that."
As they prepare to face off with one another on Sunday afternoon, Tuivasa-Sheck can't wait to take on his old hero for the first time at NRL level. He and plenty of other Roosters have kept in contact with Nuuausala since the forward's departure from the club, and Tuivasa-Sheck believes a bit of trash talk this weekend is inevitable.
"I'm so excited. I miss having that guy around at the club and I'm really keen to see him again. I can just see it already that a few boys will go out of our system just to get at him so it's going to be a good game and it'll be great to play against him," Tuivasa-Sheck said.
"A few of us boys still chat with him and see how he's going and to keep up with how he and his partner's new baby is going, which is pretty cool. It's been quiet so far this week though. Once we get over our game against Penrith and finish our review then we'll try and start the trash talk."