The Warriors have been in the doldrums since Shaun Johnson’s season-ending injury, but the overwhelming positive of the club’s dismal six-match losing streak has been the continuing development of their younger brigade.
In Saturday’s 50-16 loss at home to North Queensland, the injury-ravaged Warriors fielded a staggering five members of the club’s triumphant 2014 NYC grand final side – Tuimoala Lolohea, Sam Lisone, Ken Maumalo, Solomone Kata and debutant halfback Mason Lino – along with super-impressive front-row rookie Albert Vete.
The 22-year-old Vete has been a tower of strength in recent weeks, but it was the versatile and unpredictable Lolohea that stole the limelight as the Warriors raced out to a shock 16-0 lead after 12 minutes against the Cowboys.
The robust, hot-stepping half beat six defenders in a Johnson-like burst to score the opening try in the fifth minute.
THE FUTURETui Lolohea produces some footwork Shaun Johnson would be proud of!Saturday #NRL Highlights: http://bit.ly/R24Game3HLS
Posted by NRL – National Rugby League on Saturday, August 22, 2015
After a Lino grubber set up Maumalo to score just four minutes later, Lolohea exploded again when he ran the ball on the last tackle near halfway, scorching into open space before putting in an inch-perfect grubber for centre Dominique Peyroux to dot down.
It was all downhill there for the Warriors as they conceded 50 unanswered points, but Lolohea – who was the only played in his side to notch over 100 running metres – showed enough to suggest he will be an excellent five-eighth foil for Johnson in 2016 after Chad Townsend returns to Cronulla.