Former NRL and Warriors star to make international rugby debut
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is set to make his All Blacks debut on the bench this weekend in a highly anticipated series against Ireland in Wellington.
2018 NRL medalist Dally M will don the famous black jersey for the first time in a test match as he completes his incredible transition to the sport from rugby league.
Tuivasa-Sheck was one of six unselected players named to the extended All Blacks squad last month after starring for the Blues at Super Rugby Pacific this year.
He is expected to become No. 1204 for the All Blacks on Saturday.
“Yeah, it’s pretty crazy to be honest. Unreal just to be at camp, walking around the fern on your chest,” Tuivasa-Sheck told the All Blacks.
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“To be nominated to play, what an honour.
“No (I didn’t think I would be here) but I knew I wanted to be here.
“One of my coaches with Eric Rush who was a legend in the world of rugby. He had a barbecue at his house… He had a very nice house.
“I said, ‘if this is what it takes, this is what I want for my family’.”
The 29-year-old has played in centers for the Auckland-based franchise, having scored his first try on his return to sport in the quarter-final against the Highlanders at Eden Park.
He also chased Nic White for an incredible save try in a blockbuster regular season clash against the Brumbies in Canberra.
As an elusive runner and proven defender, Tuivasa-Sheck has the potential to be an asset to Ian Foster’s side ahead of the Rugby World Cup in France next year.
The All Blacks will be out for revenge on Saturday after losing to Ireland last week in New Zealand for the first time.
“It’s hard to have a loss, but the tough weeks are often the most exciting,” Foster said.
“A decisive game against a high quality team is a great opportunity for our growth as a team.”
Samuel Whitelock is set for his 134th Test appearance for the New Zealand juggernaut after missing last week’s loss.
Center Rieko Ioane will play his 50th Test after being named to start at outside centre.
Will Jordan also enters the starting squad for the first time in this series after coming off the bench last weekend in Dunedin.
Leicester Fainga’anuku, Folau Fakatava, Pita Gus Sowakula and Aidan Ross are the other four players to make their All Blacks debut in this series.
Ian Foster has praised the six players, including Blues uncapped playmaker Stephen Perofeta, after their first appointment to the squad last month.
“We would like to congratulate the six new selections on what will be a very special day for them and their families who I am sure will be extremely proud of their accomplishments,” Foster said.
“We have an exciting new group of players who will be keen to make a difference in the All Black jersey.”