All Blacks star Roger Tuivasa-Sheck may be set for a return to rugby league, just one season after giving up the NRL.
Tuivasa-Sheck sent shockwaves through the NRL when the former New Zealand Warriors captain announced he was chasing a Rugby World Cup dream with the All Blacks.
Watch every match of the Rugby League World Cup LIVE & Exclusive to Fox Sports, on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
In just one season, Tuivasa-Sheck has earned two Test jerseys, his debut in July’s loss to Ireland and his second in the All Blacks’ 40-14 Bledisloe Cup win last Saturday, both late cameos.
But he’s far from booking a regular spot and reports have emerged the 29-year-old is looking for a return to rugby league.
Former All Black legend John Kirwan told Sky Sports’ The Breakdown that the Roosters had offered Tuivasa-Sheck a deal.
“Little whisper is that there is a contract on the table for Roger Tuivasa-Sheck back at the Roosters,” Kirwan said.
“We’re just running out of time, so I want to see Roger get a decent crack … the northern tour, he probably shouldn’t play against Japan, we need to see him against Scotland or Wales where it’s a big test match …
“What I’ve noticed is that our kicking game, our short kicking game, our manipulative attacking game, has now gone to the foot of 12, so he’s going to have to show us that on the northern tour as well, that kicking game. We know he can step.
“It’s a timing issue, I mean I hope he doesn’t go back to the Roosters, I hope he stays for a few more years yet.”
Tuivasa-Sheck plays at inside centre and with the likes of Anton Lienert-Brown, David Havili and star fullback Jordie Barrett performing well after being switched to the No. 12 jersey, it leaves the former league star fourth in the All Blacks’ depth charts.
Tuivasa-Sheck was also on a reported $1.1m a season at the Warriors and just $400,000 plus third-party endorsements after the switch to rugby.
The Roosters have denied links, having already contracted the likes of James Tedesco, Joseph Suaali’i and Joey Manu, who may all line up at fullback in the Rugby League World Cup.
Former All Black Israel Dagg told SENZ if Tuivasa-Sheck wanted to nail down a position, he should consider a move onto the wing.
“I’d just love to see him go onto the wing. He is fantastic in the air, which is a huge factor of playing on the wing,” Dagg said.
“Defensively, I think he’d be outstanding on the wing. His edge defence would be world class, his talk wouldn’t be a problem and speed and footwork is the biggest asset he offers. When Roger Tuivasa-Sheck came back to New Zealand, that’s the first thing that sprung to my mind – seeing this bloke in open space, breaking ankles left, right and centre. I was like, ‘wow …’ At the moment at 12, he’s not able to do that.”
But the “whisper” has already sparked plenty of interest in the 13-a-side game as the 2018 Dally M Medallist was a bona fide superstar.
Fox League’s NRL 360’s Brent Read said he believed Tuivasa-Sheck would spark a bidding war on his return to the game.
“John Kirwan the former All Black and Warriors player came out in New Zealand and said that Roger Tuivasa-Sheck had a deal on the table and he believed it was with the Roosters,” Read said.
“I checked with the Roosters and they said, it doesn’t make sense they have got four fullbacks already.
“The Roosters basically distanced themselves from this.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if Roger Tuivasa-Sheck does come back eventually.
“There is a lot of money in Japanese rugby that he can go and get and then come back after that.”
Paul Kent added the lack of starting opportunities for the All Blacks was a big motivator behind a reported return.
“He might have heard whispers he was coming back to rugby league,” Kent said.
“The other thing with RTS is he is not starting for the All Blacks.
“He went to rugby to play for the All Blacks and he is not in the starting side. That gets frustrating for elite athletes when you are continually on the bench.”
Phil Rothfield suggested the Dolphins may be an option, having missed out on some big names, but Read said he would have no shortage of suitors.
“I think Bennett is close to something up at the Dolphins,” Read said.
“When it comes to Roger, there is a host of clubs that would look to sign him.
“The Tigers are an obvious one because they have spoken to Daine Laurie about playing in the halves.
“Newcastle is another one. They would love to move Kalyn Ponga to five-eighth.”
But The Daily Telegraph’s Michael Carayannis said he felt Tuivasa-Sheck was no chance of returning to the NRL.
“His next destination if it doesn’t work out in New Zealand is Japanese rugby — I don’t see how he comes back to the NRL,” Carayannis said on SEN Breakfast with Vossy and Brandy.
“The Roosters were strangely linked to him yesterday — they’ve got no money for Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, he won’t be at the Roosters.”
He did add that if Tuivasa-Sheck went to Japanese rugby, it may open a door for a short stint back in rugby league but told fans not to hold their breaths.
“It (the NRL) is not going to be his first priority so I don’t think we’ll see him back in the NRL,” he said.