Rugby League World Cup: Tuivasa-Sheck in dreamland ahead of final
Last Updated: 29/11/13 6:33pm
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck: Pinching myself
New Zealand's Roger Tuivasa-Sheck admits he is "pinching" himself ahead of Saturday's World Cup final against Australia.
The 20-year-old has been the star winger of the competition, but was almost completely unknown just a year ago.
He was playing for Sydney Roosters U20 side 12 months ago, but broke into the senior side with the NRL club and won a place in the New Zealand squad with some superb performances.
This week he was awarded the title of best winger in the international federation's team of the year and after overcoming deep bruising to his lower leg, he will run out at Old Trafford full of confidence, having scored eight tries in five matches.
"It's fantastic to make it to the World Cup final," said Tuivasa-Sheck, who attended Auckland's Otahuhu College, where he played both rugby codes and also represented the New Zealand rugby union schoolboy team.
"It's something that comes around once in a lifetime. The semi-final (a 20-18 victory over England) was good, I loved every moment of it. It was scary at times but I am happy that we won it.
"This time last year I was playing under-20s and I was hoping to continue on playing for the 20s... I pinch myself sometimes. I jump on the bus and see who I'm sitting next to and where I am now."
"It was a crazy atmosphere, we couldn't hear our calls, we couldn't hear what the boys were saying, so we just had to use body language with each other."
Tuivasa-Sheck scored two tries in the dramatic last-gasp win over England at Wembley last weekend, including one after an amazing blind offload by Dean Whare.
"I was lucky to be at the end of two structured plays and I was happy to score for the boys," Tuivasa-Sheck said.
"My first try was unbelievable. Dean Whare had some magic and it fell to me, and luckily I was there.
"It is pretty cool, I am loving everything about the World Cup. Just to look around at the boys, it keeps you going."
Tuivasa-Sheck admits he finds it hard to believe he is about to play in a World Cup final.
"This time last year I was playing under-20s and I was hoping to continue on playing for the 20s," he said.
"I thought I could try and get up to First Grade but I wanted to focus on what I could control and the 20s was where I was at, so I focused on that until I got the call up.
"My best times (at the World Cup) have been off the field, when the boys have been together and enjoying ourselves, having a good time. Especially with the boys that I am with, they are all my idols and heroes from when I was back in New Zealand.
"I pinch myself sometimes. I jump on the bus and see who I'm sitting next to and where I am now."