27 July 2021
Kiwi #779 and Warriors skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was yesterday granted an immediate release from his club contract, sparking the end of a highly decorated rugby league career.
Tuivasa-Sheck’s last game for the Warriors was against the Penrith Panthers, where he had to depart with a concussion. He was set to return to play against the Wests Tigers this weekend before the decision was made to head home.
Tuivasa-Sheck was the only Warriors player to spend all of last season without his family. His commitment to the club went above and beyond. He played a significant role in holding the Warriors squad together throughout the pandemic. Sharing the announcement with his teammates on Monday, Tuivasa-Sheck said, “It was tough holding it all back”.
“I’m pretty sure they were quite disappointed and although they’re supportive that I get to chase a new challenge and dream of mine, it was tough to hold back the tears.
“It’s a sad way to end my time at the club, especially when my last game was with a concussion and not being able to play in front of all our fans back at Mt Smart.
“It is a sad way to [end] but I’m just grateful to have the club supporting me along the way.”
Apia-born, Auckland-raised, Tuivasa-Sheck has had an amazing career in the Black and White jersey. Debuting at Kiwi #779, playing 20 test matches with 56 test points.
He became a schoolboy star in rugby league and union for Otahuhu College. Sydney Roosters recognised his talent and lured him across the Tasman at the end of 2011. Named in the 2012 NYC Team of the Year, the 19-year-old featured in the last six games of the Roosters’ NRL campaign. He represented the Junior Kiwis and was named NZRL’s Junior Player of the Year.
In the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, Tuivasa-Sheck became one of the main stars at the tournament. On debut, Tuivasa-Sheck scored a try on the flank against Samoa – the first of eight tries he scored at the tournament, a tally that included a dazzling double in the epic semi-final win over England.
Tuivasa-Sheck took over from retired club legend Anthony Minichiello as the Roosters’ fullback in 2015 and immediately assumed the No. 1 jersey in the Kiwis’ line-up, starring in their rousing 26-12 ANZAC Test triumph in Brisbane and all three Tests on the post-season tour of England. Setting new standards for metre-eating productivity, he also collected the Dally M fullback of the year award.
At just 23 years of age, he was incoming Warriors coach (and former Kiwis mentor) Stephen Kearney’s surprise choice to captain the club in 2017. But Tuivasa-Sheck responded by winning the first of three straight Warriors Player of the Year awards. He was a try-scorer in the last mid-season Anzac Test in Canberra before playing in all four of New Zealand’s RLWC matches and scoring three times to set a new mark for World Cup tries by a Kiwi (11), while also collecting NZRL’s Kiwis Player of the Year honour.
Tuivasa-Sheck led the Warriors to the finals after a seven-year absence in a phenomenal 2018 campaign, becoming the club’s first Dally M Medal winner – and just the third New Zealander (after Gary Freeman and Jason Taumalolo) to collect the prestigious honour as the premiership’s best and fairest.
While the Warriors slid down the NRL ladder, Tuivasa-Sheck’s performances in 2019 remained top-shelf. An absolute workhorse for his side, the skipper topped the competition for running metres and set a new NRL record for metres gained in a game (367), while still managing to produce his trademark game-breaking brilliance on a regular basis. He finished equal-fifth in the Dally M Medal count – first among players from teams that missed the finals.
‘RTS’ scored a try in the Kiwis’ mid-season win over Tonga at Mt Smart Stadium to take his Test tally to 14 in just 17 matches. Tuivasa-Sheck featured in New Zealand’s loss to Australia and both victories over Great Britain at the end of the year; he was particularly influential in the tough 12-8 win against the Lions at Eden Park, setting up the opening try for Jamayne Isaako with a breath-taking flick pass and coming up with several vital defensive plays in the tense dying stages.
A nominee in 2015, Tuivasa-Sheck’s excellence in the international arena was recognised via the 2019 RLIF Golden Boot award. The 28-year-old joined Hugh McGahan (1987), Stacey Jones (2002), Benji Marshall (2010), and Shaun Johnson (2014) as the only New Zealanders to collect the gong in its 28-year history, solidifying his status as an all-time Kiwis great.
Tuivasa-Sheck’s exceptional, inspirational and selfless role as the skipper of the Warriors’ Australia-based campaign in 2020 attracted universal admiration and a richly-deserved Dally M Captain of the Year award.
Tuivasa-Sheck will switch to rugby union with the Auckland Blues for the next Super Rugby season and set his sights on playing for the All Blacks at the 2023 World Cup.
New Zealand Rugby League congratulates and extends their appreciation to Kiwi #779 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck for an astonishing career with the New Zealand Kiwis. Wishing him all the best on his next journey and future achievements to come.
April 29 2021
The Warriors have secured two of New Zealand’s hottest young prospects Zyon Maiuu and Jacob Laban on three-year contracts to add more quality to the club’s playing depth for the future.
The 17-year-old Kelston Boys’ High School students are regarded by Warriors recruitment manager Peter O’Sullivan as New Zealand’s best young second rowers.
“We are very excited to lock up Zyon and Jacob for the next three years,” O’Sullivan said.
“Both boys complement each other beautifully, Zyon with his competitiveness, skill and toughness and ability to play edge and middle equally as well as the other while Jacob is a gifted, athletic edge back rower with a huge motor.”
Laban, a Randwick Kingfishers junior, moved to Auckland from Wellington this year to complete his year 13 studies and prepare for the next step of his rugby league career with the Warriors.
Maiuu was named the MVP after the recent NZRL National 20s competition.
“Both boys live together as we wanted a good family home for Jacob and can’t thank Paula and Tooma (Zyon’s mum and dad) enough for taking Jacob in and giving him a great environment to live in,” said O’Sullivan.
“They are thriving and pushing each other in their training, playing and general life skills. It’s also a great story for Kelston Boys’ High School and our working relationship with the school.
“Both boys made a huge impression on the staff when they joined the New Zealand-based top squad in the preseason last year.
“They both looked very much at home and despite their age mixed it with the big boys.
“I can’t wait for them to join the top squad in November and get their NRL dreams into action as I have no doubt the boys will go on and become Warriors in the next few years.”
Maiuu, a Te Atatu Roosters product, played for the Warriors in last year’s Covid-shortened SG Ball Cup competition while he has also played for Kelston’s First XV rugby union side. He was named in the New Zealand Under-18 Schools team last year.
Laban, who attended St Bernard’s College before moving to Auckland, was named College Sport Wellington’s rugby league player of the year in 2019. He was selected in the New Zealand Resident 16s squad last year.
With their first game of the NRL Women’s Premiership against the Roosters done and dusted, winger Langi Veainu has been able to tap into some valuable advice.
She is the sister of rugby player, Telusa Veainu, who played for the Highlanders, Crusaders and Rebels before heading to Leicester in the English Premiership.
Telusa is three years older than Langi and although he lives on the other side of the world, she says they stay in regular contact, particularly before each big game Langi plays.
“We always chat,” Langi said.
“Before I go out onto the field he calls me or sends a message and gives me tips like stay calm and focus on my role, for me to do my job out there and then everything else will come naturally.”
Telusa is best remembered in New Zealand for a stunning 95m try he scored for the Crusaders against the Highlanders in 2013, showing an incredible sidestep and turn of pace, that’s clearly a family trait.
“It gave me motivation to compete,” Langi said of how Telusa inspired her.
“There was the feeling that I want to be just like my brother and be on the world stage, showcasing my talent.
“I’d watch him train and play and that motivated me to want to be like him. He was definitely a big help.”
Sport has always been a big thing in the Veainu family. Langi has six brothers and four sisters and she describes her parents as ‘amazing.’
Naturally in such a big family, there was a fair amount of competition among the siblings.
“We were always having cricket games and playing different kinds of sports out on the front lawn, competing with each other,” Langi said.
“It was always fun to come together and compete with each other in sports, while we did have a few scraps here and there!”
Langi and Telusa aren’t the only ones keen on a sporting career, their sister, Katofoekina is in the Counties Manukau rugby team and her younger brothers have been making strides in rugby and league.
Her career has advanced further in league, having already played for the Kiwi Ferns and she’s still unsure what she’d do if both national teams wanted her.
However, the 24-year-old is reaching her peak at a crucial time in both codes for women as players are now getting paid and it’s becoming that can be considered a serious career move.
“It’s definitely a huge opportunity to play and get paid for it,” she said.
“I’m grateful anyway for being able to play the sport I love, but having that pay on top is like a bonus.”