How close RTS came to joining All Blacks

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was crunching the numbers.

Wondering, just how many of the All Blacks players would be ahead of him if he was to jump ship and play rugby union before next year's World Cup.

That's how close he came to leaving rugby league.

"It was a genuine interest," Tuivasa-Sheck told NRL.com.

"I was sitting down with my manager and going through a process of what my steps of going to rugby.

"I was counting how many players in front of me to hopefully make that World Cup squad. I had all those talks because there was a real genuine interest."

The reality was, Tuivasa-Sheck was sick of losing. He was happy living back in Auckland, but he wasn't happy with the events unfolding on the football field at the Warriors.

 "I was getting frustrated," he said. "I was starting to look elsewhere because I wanted to win. I wanted to compete in the big stages."

Things haven't gone to script for Tuivasa-Sheck since leaving the Sydney Roosters two years ago.

Warriors skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
Warriors skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

A major knee injury dogged his first year and despite earning the captaincy for year two, the club's fortunes didn't change.

"We lost a few games and we lost badly," he said.

"You go home angry and you take it out on everyone else. I don't think there was a time where I really regretted coming to Auckland apart from the footy.

"My life outside of footy was awesome and I enjoyed being around my friends and family I grew up with. It was a big thing for me to leave the Roosters. I was so happy there. I was happy with the players, I was happy with the coaching staff.

"But I didn't have any regrets about moving back to Auckland, but just sometimes on the footy field it got frustrating."

Warriors captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
Warriors captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

It's why the opportunity to pursue a career in the 15-man game was so appealing to a player with enormous potential.

After putting his frustrations to the side and allowing himself to understand how vital he was to waking the sleeping giant that is the New Zealand Warriors, he began to see things differently.

As much as he wanted to be part of an All Blacks World Cup campaign, he wasn't willing to shirk from the challenge of transforming the Warriors into a Telstra Premiership force.

"I had to get over myself and think about the bigger picture," he said.

"I had to think about the challenge and opportunity here playing for the Warriors. I agreed to stay on and play. But definitely trying my best to get into the All Blacks side and going along to the World Cup next year would have been amazing. But the bigger picture of the challenge and opportunity with the Warriors is what drawn me.

I was counting how many players in front of me to hopefully make that World Cup squad.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck

"I'm playing rugby league now. I have signed a long deal so I want to tell people I'm going all in with rugby league. I want to really make something happen. I don't want to do a one- or two-year [deal] and see what happens. I really want to put my focus here … during those years hopefully something special happens. 

"No one knows what could happen. If we could be the group that can take this club to the next level, that would be amazing."

The Wests Tigers were one of a few Sydney clubs who expressed interest in luring the 24-year-old back across the ditch next season.

However, Tuivasa-Sheck, whose parents still live in Sydney, didn't want to leave Auckland.

"It was hard to look past the offers I got from Sydney but I'm happy I made the decision to stay at the Warriors because living in Auckland was a big factor," he said.

 "When I left school my main focus was giving back to my parents for everything they've done for us. I'm happy I was able to provide that for them and they're taking off and enjoying it there.

"Now it's my time to look after me and my partner and our life. She's really loving being her friends and family and my friends and family. It's special. It's a good feeling."