As one Warriors player celebrated being selected to make his NRL debut this week, for another it all but confirmed he has no future at the Auckland-based club.
Rookie Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad’s impressive maiden first-grade outing on the right wing for the Round 9 clash against the Roosters – while Lolohea remained in the Warriors’ reserve-grade side despite coming off a two-try showing last week – is a sign from the club that Lolohea “may as well not fight”, according to his manager Stan Martin.
“It does [change his position at the club], his position at the club changed quite a while ago from my perspective, [but] it’s always been about what Tui has wanted,” Martin said.
Look who earns his #NRL debut this Sunday!
— Intrust Super Prem (@IntrustSuperPrm) April 28, 2017
“I thought he should have gone last year to be honest but he chose to stay and fight for his spot. Now obviously the signal has come from the club that he may as well not fight.
“I have got to talk to my player before I can make any decisions.
“I’d say some decisions will be made next week, he needs to talk to his father and talk to family members about what options he has got and I think he is going to come up with only one answer.
“But that’s my opinion.”
At this stage that answer would be to request a release from the Warriors, with up to six rival NRL clubs believed to be interested in talking to the 22-year-old, who less than two years ago represented the Kiwis on an end-of-year tour of England under current club coach Stephen Kearney.
Fox Sports reported today that Cronulla may enter the race for Lolohea’s signature.
Wests Tigers, Canberra, North Queensland, Newcastle and South Sydney all keen on signing out of favour Warriors youngster Tui Lolohea
— David Skipwith (@dskipwithNZH) April 27, 2017
Lolohea played the first four matches of the 2017 NRL season, lining up at wing, fullback and five-eighth, but hasn’t been required by Kearney since.
Despite most signs pointing to Lolohea leaving the club, star halfback Shaun Johnson last week threw his support behind his embattled teammate.
“Well yeah, I do [think the club should do their best to hold onto him], everyone knows what Tui can do,” Johnson said.
“I think, and I know he knows, that he has got a lot of work to do to warrant selection every week in first grade.
“He knows he has got work-ons he needs to improve on to play first grade consistently every week.
“He’s not the first player to be in that position, I remember being in that position.
“There’s no doubting his ability and impact he can have on a football team so I am sure we will see him playing first grade soon.”
— Newshub Sport (@NewshubSport) April 28, 2017
In the meantime Lolohea has earned selection for Tonga for their clash against Fiji on Saturday night, lining up in the halves with Warriors teammate Mafoa’aeata Hingano