Kearney confident in Kiwi cover for RTS
He may be the Test incumbent and reigning Dally M Fullback of the Year but Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney is confident he has adequate cover at his disposal for the loss of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
It was confirmed by the Warriors on Monday that Tuivasa-Sheck had ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament and would require season-ending knee surgery, ruling him out of the Test against the Kangaroos in Newcastle on May 6 and placing him in extreme doubt for the Four Nations tournament at the end of the year.
Tuivasa-Sheck was the New Zealand fullback in last year's Anzac Test and also for the three-Test tour of England but having scored nine tries in 11 Tests Kearney is now forced to look elsewhere for a replacement.
Tuimoala Lolohea has been named at fullback for the Warriors in their clash with the Storm on Anzac Day while Panthers centre Peta Hiku has put up his hand to fill the role and Kearney said it is a decision he and the selectors will address in the coming days.
"We've got a couple of options so we'll discuss that as selectors and see what happens. We've got a couple of weeks to go so things can change quickly," Kearney told NRL.com.
"It's very unfortunate for Roger. I thought he was just starting to hit his straps with the Warriors team.
"It's been a bit of a challenge for him over the last couple of months over there, just finding his feet, but again that's part of the game unfortunately."
Broncos prop Adam Blair was co-captain of the Kiwi team that travelled to the UK late last year and said that while a blow to the Warriors and the Kiwis that the depth in New Zealand rugby league should cover for his absence.
"A lot of the boys are behind him. It's a tough blow for New Zealand rugby league and the Kiwis coming into the Test match but with our depth now we've got a lot of young kids that have been stepping up," Blair said.
"It showed with our trip to the UK that we've got a lot of kids there that are ready to go.
"I sent him a message and a few of the other boys have too.
"For Roger it's disappointing, for New Zealand disappointing and the Warriors, disappointing. He's a good kid and I'm sure that he'll do everything right to get ready to go again next year."
The Kiwis were convincing 26-12 winners over the Kangaroos in the corresponding fixture last year with Kearney hopeful that Dean Whare could return for the Panthers as early as this week and push his claims for a place in the team.