All Blacks: Legends claim Roger Tuivasa-Sheck needs to play multiple positions to retain his place in the squad

Dylan Coetzee

All Blacks great Sir John Kirwan believes Roger Tuivasa-Sheck’s needs to be able to play multiple positions if he is to stay in the New Zealand squad.

Kirwan’s comments come after the All Black was moved to the right wing for Auckland’s final round NPC clash against Taranaki.

Foster’s influence?

The 57-year-old speculated that All Blacks coach Ian Foster enforced the late positional change that saw Tuivasa-Sheck move from 12 to 14.

“A phone call from Fossie to the coaches for sure,” Kirwan told The Breakdown on Sky Sports.

“Here is a guy that has moved, wants to play 12. We have seen him play 10 minutes of a test match at 12 and then they name him at 12 and put him on the wing. I just don’t get it. Someone has had to have called.”

Kirwan believes it is important for All Black backline players to cover multiple positions particularly with the imminent return of Anton Lienert-Brown.

“If you have played your whole league career at fullback wouldn’t you want to play at fullback?,” he said.

“I think it’s a positive either way… look at all our backs now, who doesn’t cover a couple of positions?

“I think with Anton Lienert-Brown coming back as a specialist, if he (Tuivasa-Sheck) needs to go on that (end of year) tour, he needs to play two positions,” Kirwan said.

“But I want to see his composure in a Test match from the start.”

No space in the 12 channel

Former All Blacks scrum-half Justin Marshall believes there is not enough space in the 12 channel for Tuivasa-Sheck to maximise his ability to step and beat defenders while also adding that New Zealand relies on an inside centre to take some of the kicking duties.

“There’s a lot of congestion with line speed now around 9, 10 and 12. Give him some opportunities to play across the field. The guy’s a superstar, I just want to see him play,” Marshall said.

“As a 12, the All Blacks have been massively benefited in the last few test matches by a 12 who can kick.

“You’ve got to be incredibly balanced as that player now – be a first receiver, be a hard carrier, be a kicking option and defensively shut down that zone.

“You’ve got to have all those requirements. I’m just wondering whether or not that’s too much for a guy that’s just trying to find his way and love the game again.”

Similarly, another former All Black Mils Muliaina, believes the change will give the code-hopping star more freedom to play.

“It’s always a hard transition, this is a specialist role playing at 12, it’s a hard position to play. He wants a bit of freedom and I think this just gives him a bit of an opportunity to enjoy his rugby,” he said.

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