RTS the man to spark Kiwis: Luke
He's been nominated by his captain as the player who can emulate Shaun Johnson's World Cup heroics but Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has revealed he'll rely on his own go-to man during New Zealand's upcoming series against England.
Asked by NRL.com at Thursday's series launch in Manchester who would perform a last-minute miracle for the Kiwis in the absence of 2013 Wembley wizard Johnson, New Zealand co-captain Issac Luke answered: "Roger.
"He's always asking questions, in attack and defence. It's going to be good to play with him and I'll get my first chance to do that tomorrow night."
Following a self-imposed media ban during his final few weeks in Sydney before joining Luke at the Warriors in 2016, Tuivasa-Sheck said he was grateful his Tricolours mentor Shaun Kenny-Dowall had been allowed to travel after pleading not guilty to domestic violence.
"He is someone I looked up to and went to for advice so it's good to have him here," the 22-year-old said at Hotel Football, across the road from Old Trafford and owned by a cartel of Manchester United legends.
"I think the whole club was worried for him and all the people around him were worried for him. Man, for him to fight that and come good and now he's over here for the Kiwis and he's about to play tomorrow...
"It's awesome. He's back to normal."
Tuivasa-Sheck said he put pressure on himself to help deliver a premiership for the Tricolours and that leaving Bondi Junction without achieving the objective was upsetting.
But an end-of-season trip to Cancun allowed him to celebrate a proper farewell – and he'll be reunited with Kenny-Dowall on Saturday morning, Australian time, against Leeds at Headingley.
Coach Stephen Kearney has confirmed Peta Hiku has been groomed as five-eighth for the entire series. He said there had been no discussion with Hiku about performing a similar role for Manly. "Pet gets the first crack at it," said Kearney. "We've been working with him pretty closely over probably the last eight weeks since he's finished playing at club level."
The Kiwis will head to a week-long training camp in Perpignan following the tour match with Kearney denying this was compensation for France's planned tour of the Shaky Isles this spring being cancelled.
"We've take a few lessons from when we've come over here in the past and the idea was to try and get boys away together," the coach said.
"Being hunkered down in the same place for a couple of weeks was probably a bit too long for me.
"We've got an opportunity to train at Catalans training facility on Monday and Tuesday next week, going into a bit of a camp-style preparation."
Luke told a media conference players would be able to "get away with more" under one referee.
"It's going to be a lot different than two refs – it's going to be a lot faster," he said. "But sometimes you're going to be able to slow the ruck down a lot longer.
"And there's a lot more things you can get away with."
England coach Steve McNamara suggested this weekend's team to meet France would be close to the one which will face the Kiwis – with the absence of injured fullback Sam Tomkins (knee) on Saturday a notable exception.
Tomkins said: "The injury's gone really. It was just this week, finishing off some rehab and not being able to train with the team as much as I wanted meant I wasn't quite ready."