Roger Tuivasa-Sheck’s first official match for the Blues was certainly one to remember.
The code-hopping Kiwi, having plied his trade for a decade in the NRL with rugby league sides the Sydney Roosters and New Zealand Warriors, showed glimpses of the ability that has had him already touted as an All Blacks prospect.
But RTS and the reigning Super Rugby Trans-Tasman champions would have their hearts broken at the very last gasp, an 80th-minute try from Ardie Savea followed by a nerveless conversion from Ruben Love seeing the Hurricanes triumph in a classic, 33-32.
It capped off a run of three tries in the final ten minutes for the ‘Canes, as they produced one of the more remarkable comebacks in recent seasons.
However, Tuivasa-Sheck had already done enough to stamp himself as a key part of the Blues’ title defence this season, with his pace and playmaking ability a perfect fit.
Only at the end did his influence wane, missing a critical tackle in the final play which saw Savea capitalise.
Former All Black Israel Dagg had nothing but praise for Tuivasa-Sheck’s debut, telling Stan Sport he could easily become a long-term number 12 option for the national side… or indeed anywhere on the pitch.
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“He’s proved me wrong – he’s a 12,” Dagg said.
“And if he can play 12, he can play anywhere.
“I reckon he’ll be disappointed, because of that last little moment, he missed that solid tackle. But I want to say, Roger, that doesn’t define your game, mate. You were absolutely outstanding for 78 minutes, so keep your head up!
“He did so many positives out there. His distribution, his offloads, his running game, that’s what he’s in this game for. He’s so destructive, and he’s just going to get better and better.”
Former All Blacks great Mils Muliaina agreed, telling Stan Sport Tuivasa-Sheck’s influence on the game was ‘electric’.
“Right from the get-go, he was absolutely involved, got both hands on the ball. It was electric – those offloads!” Muliaina gushed.
“I know he’ll be disappointed, it’s important that he keeps his head up because he’s going to be influential for his team.”
Coming in the aftermath of the deaths of rugby legends Va’aiga Tuigamala and Joeli Vidiri, the match was filled with emotion aplenty, with Caleb Clarke motioning to the sky after a first-half try for the Blues.
While Tuivasa-Sheck starred, just as impactful for the Hurricanes was Salesi Rayasi, who scored three tries in a match-winning effort.
The third of those came in the 76th minute, powering over in the corner to give the Hurricanes a sniff, before Savea secured the chocolates at the last.