Stat Attack: Tuivasa-Sheck's monster performance
Nathan Brown's advice on how to blunt the increasingly influential Roger Tuivasa-Sheck effect? Yeah, well, good luck with that.
The Newcastle Knights coach outlined his plans to subdue the twinkle-toed Warriors fullback at Mt Smart Stadium on Friday night – and just how ineffective his blueprint proved.
Tuivasa-Sheck was a menace from his opening carry when he glided past Mitch Barnett like the Knights' second-rower wasn't there, contributing an astounding 338 metres from 24 runs plus 11 tackle breaks as the Warriors remained in the top-four conversation with a 20-4 victory.
The Warriors captain's match-turning performance came off the back of another huge performance the previous round with 239 run metres, eight tackle busts and a critical try-saving tackle as the Warriors won at St George Illawarra for the first time in 22 years.
"Oh look, we would have liked to have got him the ball in some little worse situations than we did," Brown said of the kicking game Newcastle had planned for RTS.
"We got balls down the short side once or twice with shorter kicks which was a bit successful for us but when they're winning that momentum, it's hard to kick well when you're on the back foot. It makes kicking very, very hard."
Brown also commended the aerial presence of Warriors try-scorer David Fusitu'a – be it snuffing out bombs or winning the short goal-line restarts that has become a Warriors trademark – and fellow winger Ken Maumalo who added 223 run metres himself.
"Your best kicks generally come off your better attack and the way they got the ball a bit was reward for Roger's early carries, or the wingers' early carries and then their momentum," Brown said.
"Our wingers are catching it high in the air on the try line and it's hard coming off your try line for long, long periods of time. We used a lot of energy up staying in the contest and we weren't quite good enough to swing the momentum of the contest when we had the chance. The couple of small chances we had, with repeat sets, have another go of them on the goal line, they win the ball back and when we did get over the line, we dropped it.
"Where we're at [in the team's rebuilding process], we need to try and get those things right."
Knights half Mitchell Pearce reiterated Brown's assessment of the Warriors' lethal back three, rating them the best in the Telstra Premiership. "There was times there they were making 30 or 40 metres in three plays just on their own," Pearce said.
Tuivasa-Sheck revealed afterwards a heart-to-heart with five-eighth Blake Green had triggered his resurgence after a quiet spell leading up the St George Illawarra match.
"It's just been narrowing it down to a simple focus of getting myself right. That's really important to me, just lead by example, ticking all the boxes before I help out the team," he said.
"Greenie spoke to me about, [saying] let's get you ticking all the boxes and the team following in behind so that's the best way to do it."
Tuivasa-Sheck admitted he'd had leadership assistance from his experienced teammates while he refocused on his own game.
"Yeah, there's Adam Blair there, Tohu Harris, Simon Mannering, Blake Green and then there's all the other players, Issac Luke... I think it's just everyone in general stepping up and everyone's taking on the load and that's why there's been some really good team performances because everyone is hungry for it and everyone's getting involved."
Brown rates the Warriors as good a chance as any side of reaching the grand final.
"I look at the top eight at the minute and I think every coach in the top eight would feel, if they've got their best on the field, and they can just get it right for two or three weeks, they can get in a grand final," he said.
"And I don't think the Warriors are any worse chance of putting together two of three games than a lot of the other sides in the competition. They're a good footy side, they've got good players in key position that understand what is required."