Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has announced he will be leaving the Warriors and the NRL at the end of the 2021 season. One of the most gifted players in the game, it’s sad to see him go.
I do however understand the allure of the All Blacks for any New Zealand kid – and I can’t blame RTS for making the move. He’s got the talent and work ethic to represent the All Blacks at the 2023 World Cup and I commend him for taking the risk (on lower money) to pursue his dream.
I sincerely wish him good luck.
However, the next question becomes, how do the Warriors replace RTS? And not just as a fullback and their best player, but as the face of their franchise.
One of the few positives (and I don’t mean that it’s a good thing that he’s leaving), is that it will alleviate some salary cap space for the Warriors in which they can use to pick up two or three really good players to help build on the strong recruitment drive they have had over the past year.
They’ve brought in Addin Fonua-Blake, Euan Aitken, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Bayley Sironen and Kane Evans. Some nice signings that have the Warriors looking a lot stronger in 2021. As I said above, two or three more players could really transform this side into consistent finals contenders.
Who do they target?
Two players come to mind straight away: Brandon Smith and Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad.
Smith is a proud Kiwi boy, a cult hero in the NRL and one the most popular players in the game. Not to mention he’s already one of the best hookers in the world and plays there for the national side.
Conveniently, he’s also on the lookout for a new club in 2022, and it could be the perfect time for the Warriors to pounce and get their man. He would be the face of the club and someone they can build the side around.
The second player, Nicholl-Klokstad, is also a proud Kiwi boy and one of the best fullbacks in the NRL. He previously had a stint at the Warriors however moved across the ditch for an opportunity at the Raiders. Whilst there, he’s transformed himself into a fantastic fullback and a reputation as one of the games good guys.
He’s a fantastic ambassador for rugby league and he’d be a great replacement for the massive void that RTS leaves behind. He will arguably be the Kiwis fullback once Tuivasa-Sheck goes and it just seems the right fit for him to be at the Warriors.
I’m not sure of his situation at the Raiders but if I were the Warriors, I’d be making a massive push for him in 2022.
I think the Warriors need an identity and these two blokes can be the players to do that.
Taking a positive spin on the departure is the only thing the Warriors can do and making the right recruitment drive which combines fantastic players with the personalities to represent the club and country is integral if the Warriors are to be successful – which we need them to be for the growth of the game.