The New Zealand Warriors appear to be finals bound for the Telstra 2018 NRL Premiership competition.
The Warriors are on 30 points, identical to the Broncos, Panthers and Dragons. The point differential between the four clubs is just 29.
The only thing that could possibly affect the Warriors is if number nine Wests Tigers pull off a miracle against South Sydney, while all New Zealand needs to do is take care of business when playing the Canberra Raiders.
A lot of the credit that finds the Warriors where a New Zealand rugby club should be, playing finals, is being handed to their young captain, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
He was, in fact, named the best captain of the competition for 2018.
He beat out Melbourne’s Cameron Smith and Canterbury’s Josh Jackson by a considerable margin. RTS received seven votes from 18 voters, while Smith and Jackson could each muster only three votes on an NRL.com poll.
A partial summation of Tuivasa-Sheck’s contributions was provided by Steve Renouf, who said that Tuivasa-Sheck had “the respect of all his teammates and he’s only 25. I reckon the Warriors would be one of the hardest teams to captain in the NRL. They have under-achieved in the past and the expectations are huge.
Many of the same pollsters who acknowledged Tuivasa-Sheck, along with many other observers, expected the Warriors to fade, and they did slide down the ladder in the latter part of the season, but they have managed to get in at number eight, so as has been seen in past years, anything can happen when it is down to one game.
Tuivasa-Sheck did his leading by example, something not easy to do on a club that has the likes of Issac Luke, Simon Mannering and Shaun Johnson.
When the Warriors started losing, it was RTS who lifted them from their slump and the Warriors are considered a danger side in their first finals appearance since 2011.