First chapter of DWZ & RTS story to unfold

Set to face off as opposite fullbacks for the very first time on Saturday afternoon, Rooster Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Panther Dallin Watene-Zelezniak have more in common than just their double-barrelled names.  

 

In what could be the beginning of New Zealand's version of Brett Stewart, Karmichael Hunt and Billy Slater battling it out for the Kangaroos fullback spot midway through last decade, this weekend's clash between the Roosters and Panthers will be the first chapter in a potentially long-winding battle between the two young custodians.

Unlike their Australian counterparts however, Tuivasa-Sheck and Watene-Zelezniak don't harbour any ill-feelings towards one another. In fact, in the recent Trans-Tasman Test the two actually roomed with one another. 

This despite Watene-Zelezniak being rubbed out of his Test debut thanks to suspension, though the Roosters star believes it's only a matter of time before the 19-year-old Panther takes the next step on the international stage.

"We hung out a fair bit there [as roommates] and he's a cool person. We just chilled, just being kids again, we figured we were the two youngest in the squad so that was cool being able to be ourselves," Tuivasa-Sheck said.

"Dallin has been awesome lately; he has been playing so well. He has that speed at the back there and he's comfortable under the high ball so it'll be a great match-up and I can't wait to play against him.

"To have someone with his abilities and skills, I wouldn't say we're similarly styled but we're both the same shape so it's only going to make us work harder and be better at what we do."

As his time with Roosters continues to come to close, Tuivasa-Sheck said he knows he can't become lazy and slack off in the back end of the season, especially this week with Watene-Zelezniak and Panthers halves Peter Wallace and Jamie Soward looking to throw everything at him.

Drawing examples from how mentor and former Roosters fullback Anthony Minichiello used to play, Tuivasa-Sheck is hoping to leave the club with a bang.

"I've been happy with the way I've been going and what I am now [as a player]. I just want to be a good fullback who keeps improving and who keeps honing his skills," Tuivasa-Sheck said.

"I definitely can improve my [on-field] positioning though. Mini knew how all the halves worked in terms of how they kicked and where they were going to kick to and that's something I want to nail down."