AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - APRIL 14: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck of the Warriors makes a break during the round six NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and the Brisbane Broncos at Mt Smart Stadium on April 14, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Martin Hunter/Getty Images)

Thanks to the affluent country in which we live, most of us are fortunate enough to be able to enjoy the simple pleasures in life.

Even small luxuries such as a decent bottle of plonk with a restaurant meal on a Friday night or a movie with the family over the weekend should never be taken for granted. For many, both home and abroad, such extravagance is nothing but a pipe dream.

One of the country’s most tangible examples of the comfortable recreation we enjoy, is attendance at sporting events. Whether it be tennis, cricket, golf or the traditional winter football codes, we flock in droves; eager to see the participants, or in the case of the event goers, just to be seen and buy the T-shirt.

What lures us all, and sees us prepared to part with our hard earned for the privilege of watching them play, are the stars of the game. Those players capable of performing the astonishing on a week to week basis.

NRL stars of the recent past played the role of draw cards with aplomb. Andrew Johns was briskly elevated to immortal status, such was his sheer artistry on the field and Darren Lockyer produced consistent greatness with the Broncos.

The pending retirements of Johnathan Thurston and Billy Slater are further reminders of the value of star power. They too will become part of rugby league folklore, along with Greg Inglis, Cameron Smith, Paul Gallen, Luke Lewis, Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah, whose careers are creeping closer to the end.

We love them and hate them, depending on the circumstances, yet the one certainty is that they bring us through the turnstiles.

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It got me thinking about a choice which I hope I will never be forced to make. Hypothetically down to my last $50, which current player would lure me to the ground for one last look at the game of rugby league?

At this precise moment it would be Warriors captain and fullback, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.

When the fateful ACL disaster strikes it robs a player of twelve months of action. Tuivasa-Sheck lived the nightmare in 2016 and as is the norm, his return was hesitant and cautious.

Recapturing speed and agility takes considerable time and, sadly, in many cases the athlete is never quite the same again.

This has not been the case for Tuivasa-Sheck. The Warriors custodian has become the most watchable and lethal fullback in the game.

Spotted by the Roosters and drawn to the Club in 2012 whilst still a teenager, it didn’t take long for his astonishing footwork and try scoring prowess to emerge.

Leaping from the NYC to first grade to play in six NRL matches that season was a sign of things to come. By 2013 he was the Dally M Winger of the Year and a Premiership winner. By 2014, he was an international player after debuting for New Zealand.

The chance to return home in 2016 and make a bundle of bucks, so valuable was his signature, proved enough incentive for Tuivasa-Sheck to join the Warriors. The Club had signed one of the best in the game with at least seven to eight years of football ahead.

The ACL injury occurred early in 2016, and the Warriors cursed their luck. Given the captaincy at the start of the 2017 season by coach Stephen Kearney, the rest is, as they say, history.

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After a steady start to 2017, the full-back exploded, ending the year with average running metres in excess of 181 per game, with ten tries and eight try assists. If it is possible, 2018 has seen further improvement in his game.

If an average of 175 running metres, totals of 89 tackle busts, 173 kick receipts and a league leading (6) last line of defence tackles wasn’t enough leading into Round 22, Tuivasa-Sheck decided to turn it on against the Knights on Friday just to remind us all of his class.

With two line breaks and 338 running metres, it was clear that every weapon in his arsenal is locked, loaded and ready to launch. The 25-year old is well and truly back to his best.

The ludicrous footwork has returned, the shimmy of the hips and balance with the ball in hand is frightful for opposition defences and his own defensive efforts are outstanding at the back.

Throw in his ever-developing leadership and it is little wonder the Warriors are a more serious contender than they have been for some time.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck sits alongside the absolute elite of the competition when it comes to impact and effectiveness. Watching him up against Kalyn Ponga on Friday alluded to a healthy crop of NRL stars of the future.

Such stars will continue to drag us through the gates in the hope of witnessing a masterclass of footwork and skill and a Roger Tuivasa-Sheck masterclass might be just enough to tempt me to spend that last fifty.


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