Warriors players have praised captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck for his selflessness by offering to shift from fullback to help the development of teen star Reece Walsh in the role.
Tuivasa-Sheck, who dislocated his finger during last Sunday’s warm-up, has been named in the No.1 jersey for this weekend’s match against the Cowboys, with Walsh at five-eighth.
However, they are expected to swap positions.
Walsh was signed from Brisbane to replace Tuivasa-Sheck next season and made his NRL debut in Melbourne at fullback, with the rugby union-bound Warriors skipper moving to the wing.
It was later revealed that Tuivasa-Sheck had approached Warriors coach Nathan Brown to suggest the switch so he could select Walsh at fullback.
“That shows how much of a professional Roger is, how he puts the team first,” centre Marcelo Montoya said.
“He spoke about that with us, he spoke about how this is his last year at the club and he will play anywhere for the team and do what is best for the team.
“It is a testament to Roger’s character because he is putting the team first.”
In at the deep end: Brown explains call to start Walsh
It was also revealed that Tuivasa-Sheck required stitches before kick-off after dislocating his finger during the warm-up at AAMI Park.
Prop Kane Evans said he thought 18th man Paul Turner was going to be called in to replace Tuivasa-Sheck.
“It was a blood bath. I thought he wasn’t going to play,” Evans said. “It was popped out and there was blood everywhere.
“But he just popped it in and they had to stitch it up, then tape it up, and he still played hard so hats off to him.”
The Warriors lost 40-20 to the Storm in an Anzac Day clash that proved to be a baptism of fire for Walsh and fellow debutant Rocco Berry.
Tuivasa-Sheck alternated between wing and the second-receiver role and with star winger David Fusitu’a back for Sunday’s match against North Queensland he has been named at fullback and Walsh at five-eighth.
However, the pair are likely to either swap positions or shift between the two roles during the match as Walsh has also played in the halves at junior level.
“We saw glimpses of Reece on the weekend and how fast he is and how quick he moves across the field,” Montoya said. “Obviously he is a massive attacking threat and it just allows us to attack anywhere on the field.
“I think if you put Roger anywhere on the field he brings that same kind of energy and all of that knowledge so you are still going to get the best out of Roger no matter where he plays.”
Evans said Walsh had already demonstrated to Warriors players why Brown and recruitment manager Peter O’Sullivan had been so keen to sign him as Tuivasa-Sheck’s replacement.
The magic of Brisbane
“He only came to training last week and I have never seen someone move so fast on the park,” Evans said.
“He moved across two players like that with his feet. He has got some amazing footwork so he will be good to fit in when Roger goes.”
Berry, the son of former All Blacks representative Marty Berry, has also retained his place in the starting line-up to play the Cowboys as Montoya is out with a knee injury.
Fusitu’a (hamstring), middle forward Tohu Harris (concussion) and centre Adam Pompey (ankle) return for the Central Coast Stadium clash.
“Rocco is another superstar to look out for,” Evans said. “That was only his sixth or seventh rugby league game so he is going to grow and have a massive future.”
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