“It’s a tough gig because one week I feel like, ‘Okay, I’m starting to get it’, and the next week I’m out of position. You have to keep learning along the way. And create the connections around me. As a midfielder you have to connect with the guys inside and out, and I have to adapt constantly.”
Then came that word, when he was asked about the biggest difference between codes.
“What still bothers me is the constant change in photos,” he mused. “If there was someone in the front in high school, okay, then you attack that guy. [Now] when you look back, it’s a whole new picture. The level has gone up, and with a lot of changing pictures.”
Tuivasa-Sheck would give us more information about the transition between such a structured code as league and the organized chaos that is union.
“When I watch from a distance, you know there’s a mess, but to me it looks like a mess, just guys storming in. But there’s actually some key factors and technical things that they’re trying to do there.. … those are the little things I try to learn.”
In terms of expectations of himself, he keeps them as real as possible.
“I have good people around me as a sounding board. Of course I want to put my best foot forward and tick the boxes from the start. But it’s been a while since I played rugby. There are things I can pick up in training, but when it comes to competitions, it’s a whole new page.”
The former Warriors and Kiwis captain revealed that he wants to increase his playing weight from 94-95kg in the competition to 98-99kg.
“There are a lot of cheetahs and a few hippos – so I have to adapt to different shapes.”
He’s also not about to step on anyone’s toes now that the All Blacks are about to join the fray. He sees himself as a ‘new man’, a follower and not yet a leader, and says it’s up to him to make the connections he needs.
He also tries his best not to waste energy on debuts, even though his first real Super Rugby game certainly looks like the Mount Smart ground he knows so well.
“I’m trying to learn as much as I can, but I don’t feel like I’m a Blues player yet. I want to make it official by getting on the pitch and earning the respect of the guys first.”
In terms of expectations for next week and beyond, they are simple: “I’m just trying to play my part well, to be in the right position to add value to the players around me, and not be a barrier, so I stop playing because I am in the wrong position.”
Someone wondered what a successful season might look like in July?
“I don’t have that answer,” he said with a smile. “It’s just going down, getting to work and making myself official — earn the respect of the coaches by putting that jersey in a Super game.”