Tuivasa-Sheck to quit NRL in Warriors blow
Warriors superstar Roger Tuivasa-Sheck will quit the NRL and ink a deal with New Zealand Rugby with an aim of representing the All Blacks at the 2023 World Cup.
Tuivasa-Sheck has been in secret negotiations for the past few months after being granted permission by the Warriors to speak only with the 15-man game.
He will play out a final season in the NRL before switching codes at the end of 2021, when it is expected he will turn out for Super Rugby side the Auckland Blues for what will be rugby union's greatest coup since the signing of Sonny Bill Williams.
While officially nothing has been signed, the Warriors are privately resigned to Tuivasa-Sheck's impending departure.
Despite his current deal expiring at the end of next season, the Warriors have told Tuivasa-Sheck they won't stand in his way of an early exit. Instead, it is understood they have inserted a clause in the 27-year-old's contract that he must return to the club should he play in the NRL again.
The timing of the 2023 World Cup has meant it is now or never for Tuivasa-Sheck - who has long harboured an ambition to be an All Black - with New Zealand Rugby indicating he had to be in their ranks by 2022 at the latest to be a chance of selection.
He spent time during the most recent off-season training with the All Blacks sevens squad before rejoining his Warriors teammates for pre-season.
Tuivasa-Sheck considered switching codes at the end of a draining 2020 season and held talks with the All-Blacks and Auckland Blues but they were unable to match his $1 million-plus salary, which would have forced him to take a 50 per cent pay cut.
He was also reluctant to leave the Warriors so late in the season, making it virtually impossible for them to replace him.
However, by coming to a decision before the start of the current NRL campaign, it will give the Warriors an opportunity to hit the open market with a seven-figure war chest to try and find a replacement for their skipper.
It is a cruel blow to the revamp under new coach Nathan Brown.
Complicating the decision is how well Tuivasa-Sheck has adapted under Brown in recent weeks.
Last year was gruelling for Tuivasa-Sheck, who did it tougher than the rest of his Warriors teammates, spending the entire season away from his young family. He is part of the squad in Tamworth before the Warriors again relocate to the Central Coast next week.
Tuivasa-Sheck told the Warriors website earlier this month he was better prepared for living away from home.
"It's definitely a lot easier this time around because it's planned," Tuivasa-Sheck said. "That's probably the best part, there's a bit more plan to it.
"My family will be here in February when we make our second move into our next place."
Tuivasa-Sheck has been one of the game's best since bursting onto the scene with a flashy sidestep as a 19-year-old for the Roosters. He left the Roosters with a premiership before making a high profile switch to the Warriors in 2016.
Tuivasa-Sheck became the first Warriors player to win the Dally M in 2018 and was awarded the Golden Boot in 2019.
Originally published as Tuivasa-Sheck to quit NRL in Warriors blow