Not so crazy for RTS to be first Warrior to win Dally M Medal
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck can wriggle his way out of most tight situations and he was trying his best to sidestep chatter about being a Dally M Medal contender on Tuesday.
The problem is, the captain's Warriors teammates were only too happy to throw his name forward as potentially becoming the first player in club history to win the Telstra Premiership's most prestigious individual award.
RTS has been in superb form over the past fortnight, chewing up a combined 557 running metres in the crucial wins over St George Illawarra and Newcastle, the latter including a career-high 11 tackle busts at Mt Smart Stadium last Friday.
The 338 metre-eating performance against the Knights had Fox League commentator Andrew Voss floating RTS as his Dally M Medal "bolter", a prospect put to the red-hot stepper after training on Tuesday in preparation for Sunday's ANZ Stadium stoush with Canterbury.
"That's crazy," Tuivasa-Sheck said before trying to evade the topic with a retort delivered as quickly as one of his actual sidesteps.
"Dad just keeps texting me about 'hey, get your head out of the papers or get your head away from all of that stuff' because all that stuff doesn't matter if you have one bad performance. No one really cares anymore. My head is just [thinking] about preparation and getting ready and getting the team ready to go."
Sure, but don't you still think about 2013 when you were named NRL fullback of the year?
"Nah, nah, don't look back there, eh. Just enjoy my moment here and I think at this stage all I care about is playing good footy and going home to my girls pretty much."
Warriors coach Stephen Kearney had a take on that too, weaving together an answer that included referencing the former Roosters star's "greatest strength" being when he runs with the ball and .. fatherhood.
"He wants to be the best at everything, Rog. He's not long had a newborn [his partner Ashley Walker gave birth to the couple's first child, daughter Amara, on May 31] and I'm sure he wants to be the best dad in the world too," Kearney said.
"He's such a competitor in the sense he wants to be the best so sometimes when you get caught with that, you're trying to drag everyone up to your standard. Sometimes it's about helping individuals get there but the primary focus is making sure you're there yourself and the other stuff will look after itself."
So you wouldn't rule out Telstra Premiership player-of-the-year honours then, coach?
"Look, I'm sure Roger's not too fussed about that [the Dally M speculation]. He's just trying to put his best performance in every week for the team and that sort of stuff often looks after itself. You know, I've got no doubt if he's there or thereabouts, it'll happen for him."
Halfback Shaun Johnson has the RTS faith too.
"I'd be surprised if he's not in the running for it, the crazy stats he's putting up, they're through the roof," Johnson said.
"It's just his influence on the group in terms of competing on every play, fighting for every little bit her gets, that's what we need and that's probably the biggest thing as a teammate we take from him.
"He's always growing, always looking to get better. If there's one person who probably has the right to get a bit complacent at times it could be Rog, but through his work ethic, he never looks like that. We look up to him. He sets the standard I guess of that 'better never stops' mentality."
Having played for Wigan, Hull and five NRL clubs before joining the Warriors this season, fellow playmaker Blake Green has seen his share of quality fullbacks, including Billy Slater during 2015 and 2016 campaigns with Melbourne.
From his viewpoint, RTS is right up there and only going to get better. Could he replace the retiring Slater as the best No.1 on the planet?
"He's certainly got all the capabilities," said Green before stressing "I don't want to put any expectations or any added pressure on him". Maybe it's a little late.
"I always knew Roger was a good player when I came to the club. He's been fantastic.
"I'm really pleased we've locked him up for another four years and no one can steal him from us; some of the metres he's been getting ... he's so hard to handle one on one and in space, he's a runner. The more he can run for footy for us, the better our team is going to go."