Sweet-stepping Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is poised to punch a hole through his toughest wall yet – the incumbent Kiwis Test team.
Tuivasa-Sheck should be one of the few players introduced for next week’s Test against Australia who wasn’t involved in New Zealand’s march to the Four Nations title last November.
Irresistible form for the Sydney Roosters from the 21-year-old looks set to force the hand of coach Stephen Kearney for the Test in Brisbane on May 1.
Tuivasa-Sheck, who has been on the wing for his seven Tests, missed the Four Nations for “burnout” reasons.
He is putting serious heat on Manly’s five-cap fullback Pita Hiku, who started the 22-18 final win in Wellington on November 15.
Kearney emphasised that current form will trump his squad members from five months ago if any of them are off the pace.
Tuivasa-Sheck’s credentials came up without prompting from journalists.
“There are guys who have really put their hand up who weren’t there last year which makes it hard in some positions,” he said.
“There’s a fullback playing at the Roosters who’s made that transition pretty well.
“He’s given us food for thought, that’s for sure.”
Experienced wing Jason Nightingale is doubtful with a foot injury but Kearney seems unlikely to replace him with Tuivasa-Sheck, believing the youngster’s days as a winger are numbered.
“He’s spent the first eight rounds playing at fullback. I think that’s his position.”
The Apia-born back, who has signed a three-year Warriors deal from next season, would provide impact in a backline already brimming with threats.
There will be no room when the squad is announced on Sunday for play-making veteran Benji Marshall, whose form for St George Illawarra provides a compelling reason to pick him.
However, Kearney wants to persist with proven pair Shaun Johnson and Kieran Foran in the halves, although the latter must prove his fitness for Manly on Saturday.