Despite enduring a frustrating year in his attempts to break into the All Blacks, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck wouldn’t change a thing as he prepares for just his second year back in rugby union.
After a code switch back to rugby union in 2021, Tuivasa-Sheck was made to wait until 2022 to step onto the field thanks to COVID-19, and made an impact with the Blues during his first taste of Super Rugby Pacific.
A call-up to the All Blacks followed, but things didn’t fall Tuivasa-Sheck’s way, limited to only one start and three test appearances in the entire year.
But while many would lament a lack of opportunity at the highest level, Tuivasa-Sheck is using it as a learning experience and motivation to push for higher honours again in 2023.
In fact, Tuivasa-Sheck even requested to end his off-season early, and gained special dispensation to play for the Blues in their pre-season win over the Hurricanes on Saturday.
And as his All Blacks competition made the most of their extra rest, Tuivasa-Sheck himself stood out with a try in his side’s 28-21 comeback victory.
But with a year of experience now under his belt, Tuivasa-Sheck says the lessons of 2022 will push him to be better at every chance he gets.
“It was still such a big learning for me,” Tuivasa-Sheck said. “I was only [in my] first year, and got called into one of the best teams in the world.
“I’m still blessed to be part of that team. I was just there soaking it all in.
“I got moved to come back and play NPC, got moved to the New Zealand XV. I was really stoked with it.
“I just wanted to play rugby. I really wish I could get more games for the All Blacks, but this is the path I’m going through.
“I’m blessed. If that’s the best learning curve for me, then it is.”
The additional time on the pitch gives Tuivasa-Sheck an early head start in what’s certain to be a competitive time for both him and his All Blacks competition.
With few spots up for grabs to travel to this year’s Rugby World Cup in France, Tuivasa-Sheck will be up against the likes of incumbents Jordie Barrett and David Havili in the race for the All Blacks’ No. 12 jersey.
But as he continues to re-learn rugby union, Tuivasa-Sheck can’t help but look forward to what’s to come over the next 12 months.
“I’m just excited, just really, really excited about this year, my second year of rugby,” he said.
“Hopefully I can be a lot more calm in the mind and all that, not chasing and worrying about where I need to be and hesitating.
“That’s my thing this year, play a bit more freely and be in the right places.”
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