His older brother is proving one heck of an act to follow, but so far Johnny Tuivasa-Sheck is doing a damn fine job of making a name for himself. Already a Premiership winner at U-20 level, ‘JTS’ is also a social media star in the making, showcasing impressive talents both on and off the field. We catch up with the man himself to get his story.
KLC: Let’s start with the elephant in the room – what’s it like being Roger Tuivasa-Sheck’s little brother and trying to make a career in the same sport?
JTS: Motivational and inspirational. To see your big brother up there, on posters and all that stuff, it’s a bit weird but so cool. Hopefully I can get to that spot sometime.
I don’t think there is any negative about it, he is a great shadow to follow. I love to be compared to him, if people want to do that I don’t see it as a negative. He has had and is having a great career and I would love to come close to it.
When you guys talk these days does footy feature, or do you try and avoid it?
Footy is a part of our lives, so we certainly talk about it. Whether it be diet or training, we talk a lot about the mental side of the game as well. What we have to do to overcome stuff.
And did he seek you out before deciding to take on the captaincy at the Warriors?
Yeah we talked about it a lot. He was worried about what the older boys in the Warriors would be thinking if he took it, but I think they just told him he was the right person for it and to go with it, which is why he is the captain now.
What do you admire most about Roger?
His work ethic. Ever since we were young, it wasn’t a surprise to see where he is at now. He has worked for it ever since he was young, he was always out with dad practicing his stepping, his skills, but I was always at home with mum eating! So I would love to take some of that from him.
Enough of that, on to you. You’ve stepped up to reserve grade from the 20s this year, how’s it treating you this year?
Loving it. When we played the Warriors (earlier this season) I was looking across the field and seeing Manu Vatuvei and other players who I have looked up to. It’s good to get that feel with the big boys, I am really enjoying it.
What’s been the biggest change?
I think a big thing would be the mental game. Everyone can do weights, get strong, be fitter, but it’s that mental game. Being strong enough to stay in the game mentally. In the U-20s there are times you drop off, but in ISP [reserve grade] they keep coming.
You have a strong link to Samoa through both parents, has the idea of representing them at the World Cup entered your mind yet?
I think I am eligible, so I am waiting for a phone call! That would be good. I haven’t heard anything, but the first goal is trying to crack the NRL side, so that’s the main one.
Samoa means a lot to me because that is where mum and dad were brought up and that’s my people, so it’s definitely a proud thing to be Samoan. If I got to play for them I would give my all, so hopefully they look at me.
Like Roger you were raised in south Auckland – was it rugby or league growing up?
I started league when I was 14, I wasn’t into footy that much, but got into it more when I got older. I played in Otara for my junior league. When I started going to Sacred Heart I made the 1st XV and I thought ‘hey I could go somewhere with this’.
I played with Solomone Kata in rugby, I hated training with him because he would always run it straight and his legs were just too big! It was great fun though, and seeing where he is now, he has really earned his spot now.
Finally, you are forging quite the side career as a social media star with your videos… what do you enjoy about that stuff?
I think the biggest enjoyment I get from it is the response people give me. When people hit me up like ‘yo, I love your videos, they changed my day’ and for me to be able to make someone smile from the comfort of my own home, well it doesn’t get better than that.
Is TV work something that interests you for post-footy?
I studied graphic design and studied film, so that’s something I want to look at after footy or even during footy
I might not have the face for it, but we will see, we will see! It’s all natural at the moment. I am doing some acting courses now, it’s different to rugby league but I enjoy it.
I was working on some video content with the Roosters previously and just helping them out where I could. But they have got a great team in the media department, they don’t need me, but I love being around it. It’s more for me than them, I learn a lot from being around them and they are really great people.