It should have come as little surprise when Roger Tuivasa-Sheck announced that he was finally following through with his All Blacks dream.
The New Zealand Warriors confirmed the bombshell news over the weekend that the Dally M Winner would be bowing out of the NRL at the end of the 2021 season, in an attempt to play for the All Blacks at the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.
‘FAT MESS’: Andrew Fifita unveils stunning weight loss
'WE ARE A FAMILY': Teammate discusses Pearce texting saga
The 27-year-old has been released from the final year of his contract with the Warriors in 2022, though he is yet to sign a deal with any rugby club.
Tuivasa-Sheck, the 2018 Dally M Medal winner, has long spoken of his desire to play for the All Blacks and the Warriors captain believes the time has now come to follow through that burning ambition.
While most of his teammates and NRL rivals understand Tuivasa-Sheck's stance, the decision has not gone done well with some sections of the media in New Zealand.
New Zealand Herald reporter Chris Rattue wrote a scathing opinion piece implying that the Warriors would be better off cutting ties with him now, rather than seeing him play out one final season in 2021.
“Roger Tuivasa-Sheck IS the Warriors. Or he was. I actually think the Warriors should tell him to shove off now,” Rattue wrote.
“They’ve got a ready-made replacement option in Peta Hiku, with exciting rookie Paul Turner waiting in the wings. So it’s hard to think of a more disappointing or even anger-inducing moment in the history of a truly crazy, often inept but endlessly entertaining and fascinating sports club.
“This is a case of searching for positives and struggling. The guy you wanted most to rely on turned out to be the guy you can’t rely on.
“And I’d rather watch blokes who really want to be at the Warriors, who aren’t heading off to the rival code. Any glories which come the RTS way this year will be another great advert for rugby.
“It’s seismic. It’s that bad. The guy is that good, his attitude is that good, his effect on a wobbly club is that important. He also happened to be the probable Kiwis captain.
“Right now, I’d happily rip his player of the year photos off the Warriors walls. I really would. It feels like an act of betrayal.”
Tuivasa-Sheck was last year's Dally M Captain of the Year but fellow Kiwi scribe David Long says his decision to walk away after 2021 could spell trouble for the Warriors this season.
“No doubt, he’ll give his all this year, but there could be the worry that other players won’t bother laying everything on the line for him, when they know he’ll soon be taking off,” Long wrote for stuff.co.nz.
“There’s no one else on the roster currently who has the stature and box office appeal of Tuivasa-Sheck.
“Tohu Harris is off contract at the end of the season and Kodi Nikorima has an option in his favour for 2022. Losing all three of those players for next year would require the club’s recruitment and retention manager, Peter O’Sullivan, to dig deep into his contact book to fill those holes.”
Warriors regret how news broke
Tuivasa-Sheck said he came to the decision a few months ago that the time was right to pursue a career in the sport he grew up playing.
"It's always been there and it's no secret ... rugby is the sport I grew up playing," he said.
"Rugby is where I started my junior footy and playing rugby right through. It's always been there in the background.
"To do it now at a time like this and to have the club's support, that's why I chose to do it now."
The Warriors skipper also refused to say which position he is hoping to play, although it's likely he could start on the wing before developing a kicking game to move into fullback or even centre.
Warriors CEO Cameron George said the decision didn't come as a shock to the club and there had already been discussions on how to recruit a player to replace the star fullback.
However, the club was shocked by the news breaking in the media on Thursday, forcing Tuivasa-Sheck to hurriedly tell his teammates before the story was published.
"I wish I could have announced it properly and let them know first and in a better way, but the boys have been really good and really supportive and they're keen to make it happen this year, and I'm all in with them," he said.
"This club is really important to me and special to me.
"I've been wanting to do all I can for this club and I'm even more driven to try and make it happen this year and I know the team are too."
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.