Tuivasa-Sheck nominated for medal for leading Warriors through Covid crisis

Warriors captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has been cited for his deeds in driving a young Auckland boy to training in his nomination for a prestigious NRL award.

The Kiwis fullback is on a list of 14 nominees for the Ken Stephen Medal for outstanding community service.

He was nominated by the Warriors after leading the side through their four-month campaign in Australia during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tuivasa-Sheck – the NRL’s Dally M Medal player of the year in 2018 – was the only Warrior who did not have his family with him, and he has missed his daughter’s birthday during his enforced Australian exile.

The Warriors hailed their skipper in a citation, saying: “We would contend he has contributed in a unique manner in this unique season so dramatically and adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic”.

“Indeed, he hasn’t stopped making a difference in an all-encompassing manner throughout this most extraordinary season, not to mention taking the meaning of being a role model to a new level.

“His contribution transcends the more familiar forms of giving time willingly in the community.”

The citation said Tuivasa-Sheck had always embodied “what is good about the game but this year, in adversity, his personal qualities have shone through like a beacon as he has galvanised those around him and, even more significantly, society at large’’.

The Warriors said “it should never be forgotten’’ that Tuivasa-Sheck and his partner made “a mutual decision that he would travel to Australia and remain there for the whole season on his own while his young family stayed home in Auckland’’.

“He was all in, committed to his club, to his teammates and staff, to rugby league, to the NRL, to sport per se and to New Zealand to do all he could despite the enormous sacrifice he had made.

“It hasn’t been easy. During the campaign he said he thought about being home with his family every day and was emotionally stretched throughout, not least when he missed milestones; he had to watch on his mobile to see his infant son crawling for the first time, and he couldn’t be home for his daughter’s birthday.

“Through it all, Roger found a way to train and perform at the highest level, to be the on-field and off-field leader his team needed, to treat teammates, staff, opponents, match officials and all people he met with the utmost respect.’’

Before leaving Auckland, Tuivasa-Sheck got involved, with Ola, a Warriors club sponsor, in a project supporting his boyhood club, the Otahuhu Leopards.

The Warriors said their captain “took the lead in a special way by turning up at one of the player’s homes to meet a stunned young Rocco and drive him to training. The pair instantly struck up a bond on the trip to Mount Richmond Domain in suburban Auckland where Rocco and his teammates trained.’’

Former Kiwis prop Martin Taupau and the table-topping Panthers’ New Zealand-born captain James Tamou are also nominees for the Ken Stephen Award.

Warriors and Kiwis legend Ruben Wiki won the award in 2007, and Canberra’s former Kiwis second rower Isolia Soliola took the prize in 2019.