New Vodafone Warriors fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is one of nine players added to the train-on squad preparing for the Kiwis’ coming tour to England.
The 22-year-old’s NRL season ended last Friday when his Sydney Roosters side was eliminated by Brisbane from the finals.
On Monday night he was named the Dally M Fullback of the Year following a season in which he created new standards for total metres gained.
The NRL’s official data provider Prozone had Tuivasa-Sheck making a total of 6517 metres, the first player to break the 6000-metre barrier since detailed stats have been collected. Playing all 27 games he averaged 241 metres, made 200-plus a remarkable 23 times and topped 300 metres three times (his best was 339 metres and his lowest 171 metres).
Joining Tuivasa-Sheck in the train-on squad are his fellow Roosters team-mates Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Sam Moa, Matt McIlwrick, former Vodafone Warrior Sio Siua Taukeiaho and Isaac Liu.
Hooker McIlwrick is originally from the Halswell Hornets in Christchurch and transferred to Sydney from the Canberra Raiders this season. With first-string hooker Jake Friend initially sidelined, he made eight appearances for the Roosters this year.
Second rower Taukeiaho, a one-game Vodafone Warrior in 2013 and Otara Scorpions junior, switched to the Roosters in his 2014. He wasn’t used at NRL level by the Roosters last year but appeared in all 27 matches this season.
Auckland-born Liu, an Otahuhu Leopards and Pakuranga Jaguars junior, is another product out of Keebra Park State High School. With five Tests for Toa Samoa to his credit, he has made 64 NRL appearances for the Roosters since his debut in 2013.
The train-on squad now numbers 31 players with more set to be added after Sunday’s grand final between Brisbane and North Queensland. Kiwi candidates named in Brisbane’s grand final team are wing Jordan Kahu, prop Adam Blair, second rower Alex Glenn and interchange utility Kodi Nikorima. Interchange prop Joe Ofahengaue was born in Auckland but has aligned himself with Australia (he has represented the Junior Kangaroos). Included in the North Queensland squad are Auckland-born wing Antonio Winterstein – who has played seven Tests for Toa Samoa – and loose forward Jason Taumalolo. Winterstein was in the Kiwis’ 2010 Four Nations squad but didn’t play a match.
Meanwhile, experienced standoff Kieran Foran has withdrawn from the squad, opting for off-season rehabilitation of an elbow injury that has troubled him for much of the season.
The touring squad of 23 players will be named on Thursday, October 8.
2015 TRAIN-ON SQUAD
Canterbury-Bankstown | Greg Eastwood, Curtis Rona
Cronulla | Gerard Beale, Sosaia Feki
Manly | Peta Hiku
Melbourne | Jesse Bromwich, Tohu Harris, Kevin Proctor
Parramatta | Manu Ma’u
Penrith | Lewis Brown, Sam McKendry, Elijah Taylor, Dean Whare
South Sydney | Bryson Goodwin, Issac Luke
St George Illawarra | Jason Nightingale
Sydney Roosters | Isaac Liu, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Sam Moa, Matt McIlwrick, Sio Siua Taukeiaho, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
Vodafone Warriors | Solomone Kata, Tuimoala Lolohea, Simon Mannering, Ben Matulino, Bodene Thompson
Wests Tigers | Manaia Cherrington, Te Maire Martin, Tim Simona, Martin Taupau