Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has played his last NRL game, with the Warriors superstar set to return to New Zealand before the travel bubble closes on Thursday.
Already bound for rugby union next year, Tuivasa-Sheck has made the call to rush back home on Thursday before the Trans-Tasman bubble is closed for at least eight weeks.
One of the game’s most electrifying fullbacks when at his best, it means the 2018 Dally M Medal winner’s NRL career ends with a concussion against Penrith in round 18.
Tuivasa-Sheck had initially planned on playing out the season, but has now been granted a release to avoid quarantine and prevent a hold up to his switch to rugby union.
“We’re hugely sympathetic to Roger’s position,” Warriors CEO Cameron George said.
“The government paused the travel bubble last week and announced it was giving New Zealanders seven days to return home.
“The reality is the border might be closed for more than eight weeks.
“Roger is going to rugby union with our blessing but if we require him to see out the rest of his contract he won’t be able to return home until at least the end of September and maybe a lot later.
“It would seriously impact on his ability to make his start in union and we wouldn’t want to see that happen.”
Tuivasa-Sheck’s plight sums up that of the Warriors, who had hoped to return to Auckland next month for a home game before Australia’s latest coronavirus outbreak.
Players and staff have not been home since a two-month stint between last October and January, when the Warriors conducted a pre-season with Australia and New Zealand-based groups.
A premiership winner with the Roosters in 2013, Tuivasa-Sheck scored 58 tries in 195 NRL games.
Meanwhile, the suspension of the travel bubble also raises questions over how the Warriors will return home at the end of the NRL campaign.
Tuivasa-Sheck’s exit represents another blow to the club after six straight losses, meaning their season will almost certainly end within the next eight weeks.
The Warriors now intend on staying in Australia beyond the end of the season as they await a spot in the queue to return home.
But if the break in the bubble is extended beyond eight weeks, George said they could be forced to wait until December before leaving Australia.
“We’ll start to explore (how to get back), but we’re respectful that we are no more important than anyone else striving to get back to New Zealand as well,” George said.
“We don’t expect special treatment.
“But if there is a way we can get the group in considering the larger scale of our group we will work with the government and Sport New Zealand.”