Skipper begs Kiwi teammate to stay put
NEW Zealand skipper Adam Blair has implored Roger Tuivasa-Sheck not to turn his back on rugby league.
The Kiwis and Warriors fullback has been linked to a shift to rugby when his contract expires at the end of the 2018 NRL season.
Ahead of the Kiwis' World Cup opener against Samoa at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday, Blair said he hoped Tuivasa-Sheck stuck with league.
Blair will "get a year with him" at least when he joins the Warriors from the Broncos, but wants more.
"Please don't go Rog, that's all I've got to stay," Blair said.
Tuivasa-Sheck is said to be contemplating joining the Super Rugby competition with an eye on an All Blacks jersey.
"I guess it's up to the individual with their decision and you've got to respect their opinions in what they want to do," Blair said.
"(But) if it's your teammate and you lose a quality player, it's disappointing."
For now, Blair and his Kiwi teammates, including Tuivasa-Sheck, Shaun Johnson, Kodi Nikorima and Martin Taupau, will focus on Samoa.
Saturday's Test is likely to be one of the most physical encounters of the tournament. Samoa have deficiencies in some parts of their game, particularly in the halves, but up front they're as big and skilful as New Zealand are.
The Samoans will be led by skipper Frank Pritchard and Josh Papalii.
"Every time we play Samoa, no matter who's in their team, it's always a big test match," Blair said.
"The players they have through their team are quality, but I could say the same about our team.
"Every game is won in the middle and both teams have strike out wide.
"So it will be important as part of the middle group to really aim up, try to get stuck in and have a bit of fun at the same time."
It's been a different preparation for the New Zealanders, with the side opting not to play any warm-up games.
"We're trying to change the way the Kiwis have played in previous years," Blair said.
"We're trying to build a legacy that's higher than us.
"So we want to perform to our best, we want to win the game and we want to play the way we want to play.
"But it's most important that we know individually what we've got to do in our jobs, be clear on those things and get it done."
Blair backed New Zealand coach David Kidwell, who has been under fire in recent times.
"The passion is always there with David and he showed that when he was a player," he said.
"He's been through the tough times, he's done some hard work and he's put a lot of effort into the World Cup team."