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The return of Roger and a milestone fated to happen at the Warriors

His career didn't start there, and for a long time recently didn't look like finishing there either, but it feels right that Roger Tuivasa-Sheck will be wearing a Warriors jersey as he celebrates 200 NRL games this Saturday. 

Players like 'RTS' – who when it's all said and done will probably be regarded as the best Kiwi talent of his generation – don't become available too often, and when they do it sets off a feeding frenzy between clubs, with plenty having tried in vain to lure him to their shores over the past decade-or-so. 

So how is it that where so many others failed, the Warriors succeeded not once, but on two separate occasions, in signing the rugby league virtuoso?

Back in 2016 when they first achieved it they were effectively righting a wrong which had long irked their fanbase, signing the then 21-year-old superstar they had let the Roosters steal from under their nose as a teenager.

A second raid last year to bring Tuivasa-Sheck back after he'd left for rugby union in mid-2021 – following a successful six-season stint at Go Media Stadium – was even more audacious and saw the Warriors beat out a host of NRL and global rugby union clubs to secure his signature. 

Home again now, on a three-year deal that almost certainly means it's for good this time, there's a sense of relief and pride across the board in Auckland that the fullback-turned-centre will be celebrating his latest career milestone as a Warrior. 

"There's a lot of satisfaction in bringing Roger back," Andrew McFadden, the Warriors recruitment boss who helped secure Tuivasa-Sheck's signature for both his stints at the club, tells

I thought signing him this time was a bit of a pipe dream at first. Roger doesn't like to walk away from a challenge and I knew that it would be hard to get him out of that All Blacks environment. 

Andrew McFadden Warriors GM of recruitment, development and pathways

"But it's terrific that he's back in our team. We're certainly glad that he's here and that we can celebrate that 200 with him.

"From those 200 games, 199 of them will have been first-class games. He rarely has a bad game."

This week Tuivasa-Sheck's teammates Tohu Harris and Jazz Tevaga each recounted meetings with their friend prior to him signing back with the Warriors, which began to sow the seeds for a return that only months earlier had seemed highly unlikely. 

In the background the Warriors had been persistently knocking at the door, staying in regular contact with Tuivasa-Sheck's management team about a potential return, despite being met with various versions of 'thanks, but no thanks'.

Eventually they got the sit down they'd been after though and just minutes into it McFadden realised their dream was a real chance of becoming a reality. 

A certified mind blower

"I was at the original meeting when we met and Roger's body language – he got very excited very quickly," McFadden said. 

"It was after that meeting that I went 'oh, we're a chance here'.

"It's funny with Roger, I know he's very ambitious and wanted to be an All Black, and he achieved that, but I always thought that his game didn't suit union.

"His game is built on effort over time and I'm not sure that union sort of allows that with the stoppages. When fatigue comes in, that's when Roger really comes into his own. His power, his strength, his endurance.

"That's why I always had it in my mind that he might return, and I knew that with Andrew Webster here he'd be able to put something together that would really excite Roger."

The Warriors acknowledged Tuivasa-Sheck with a presentation on Wednesday that included a screening of what Tevaga described as a "20-minute-long highlight reel", featuring some of the best moments from his 11 seasons in the NRL so far. 

REMINDER: RTS is back in 2024

Afterwards Webster said it was clear how much it meant to the 30-year-old to be reaching the milestone as a Warrior. 

"He wanted to come back to his hometown team... Roger was like 'yeah, I want to come here, I like the vision, I like where the place is going. If I'm going to play rugby league I want to play at the Warriors'," Webster said. 

"He's had a great journey with lots of life experiences.

"To put an All Blacks jersey on, Kiwis jersey, Warriors jersey, be at the Roosters and win a grand final; he's had a great career.

"Playing his 200th game in a Warriors jersey is really special for him."

Acknowledgement of Country

The New Zealand Warriors honour the mana of the Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa, Australia and the Pacific. We acknowledge the traditional kaitiaki of the lands, elders past and present, their stories, their traditions, their mamae and their mana motuhake.

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