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‘I’m a fullback’: CNK sure he’s still No.1 when RTS arrives

The signs are pointing to Roger Tuivasa-Sheck undergoing a positional switch when he arrives at the Warriors next year, with Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad confident he will remain the club’s first-choice fullback going forward.

While Tuivasa-Sheck won a Dally M Medal and Golden Boot award as a fullback before moving to rugby union in 2022, Nicoll-Klokstad is in his first season of a three-year deal in Auckland and told he has no intention of moving from the No.1 jersey. 

I’m a fullback. I came here without a doubt in my mind that I am just a fullback, I’m not a fullback utility, I’m not playing centre or winger.

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad

“I allow me playing centre internationally because that’s a dream of mine to play for the Kiwis, so that's the only time I have allowed that. 

“As far as I am aware I am the fullback of the Warriors and it's up to me make sure that I am playing consistent footy."

Bulldogs v Warriors - Round 11, 2023

In his second stint with the Warriors, following four seasons with the Raiders, Nicoll-Klokstad has been among coach Andrew Webster’s best players so far in 2023, averaging 182 run metres across nine games and impressing with his defensive efforts and safety under the high ball. 

His impact was on full display in Friday night’s 24-12 win over the Bulldogs in Sydney, as he handled a series of monster bombs from Matt Burton with aplomb and ran for a team-high 210 metres.

If as expected he does remain at fullback next year, that leaves centre as one option for the returning RTS in 2024, while a move to the halves is a real possibility as well, with Shaun Johnson still without a deal beyond the end of this season. 

Nicoll-Klokstad shines at fullback

Having followed a similar career path himself, after moving from league to union before returning to the NRL to play predominantly as a five-eighth, former Sharks and Titans star Mat Rogers believes it’s a move Tuivasa-Sheck could make with success.

“He’s got all the skills you need to play in the halves,” Rogers said of Tuivasa-Sheck.

“You don’t necessarily need to be a ball player to play five-eighth, you can be a ball runner, and some of the best to play the position have been ball runners.

“If Roger goes to Warriors and plays five-eighth and his instinct is run first, pass second, he would be fine.

Matt Burton, his strength is his running game, Cody Walker too… Roger can create something out of nothing, he’s done that for a long time now.

Mat Rogers

While in no doubt about Tuivasa-Sheck’s ability to return to his best in rugby league, Rogers said that from his experience, the 29-year-old will likely have work to do on the conditioning front in order to handle the rigours of the NRL again.

“The intensity of [NRL], it’s so much harder. Rugby union is hard game, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not the same as league," Rogers said. 

“Particularly if you are playing five-eighth with those big guys running at you. He will find that to be his biggest challenge I think.”

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