Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

NRL: Warriors recall Tui Lolohea, drop Jonathan Wright

Tui Lolohea. Photo / Getty
Tui Lolohea. Photo / Getty

Normal service has resumed at Mt Smart.

After one of the more bizarre Warriors' selection scenarios against the Sharks - with Jonathan Wright preferred ahead of Tui Lolohea - the team to play the Titans this week has a more balanced look about it.

Lolohea is back in the XIII on the wing, the in-form David Fusitua stays at fullback and utility Nathaniel Roache is named as interchange cover on the bench.

The 18-19 loss to the Sharks showed the folly of defying conventional NRL wisdom. It's hard to think of another NRL club who would pick Wright ahead of Lolohea, and it also meant there was no one on the bench (like Roache) to give Issac Luke a spell.

Lolohea, who was told he needed to work on some defensive issues before the Sharks game, returns to the right flank on Saturday, where he was so impressive earlier this season and at times last year.

It also signals Fusitua is locked in as the club's preferred fullback for the rest of this season, continuing his rise. There was a period this year when he couldn't make the NRL team on the wing - now he is an integral part of the Warriors' spine. He ran for 178m on Saturday, and showed brilliant awareness to set up Blake Ayshford for the Warriors' second try. Fusitua is also impressing in his defensive work and positional play.

Halfback Shaun Johnson, who continues to struggle with a quad injury, had a day off training on Tuesday. As did Simon Mannering, who will play his 250th NRL game against the Titans. He'll become just the second Warrior to reach the milestone, only behind Stacey Jones (261) and is on track to become the first player to record 300 matches for the club.

His feat will also coincide with the Warriors' 250th first-grade game at Mount Smart stadium since 1995. The games so far have comprised 246 regular season matches and finals against Canberra in 2002, Parramatta in 2007 and the Sydney Roosters in 2008.

The club also announced today that Jeff Robson, whose family have remained in Sydney during his time in Auckland, has been released from his contract on compassionate grounds. Robson played seven matches for the Warriors this season but has slipped out of the picture with the return of Thomas Leuluai and the emergence of Ata Hingano and Tui Lolohea.

New Zealand Warriors: David Fusitu'a, Tuimoala Lolohea, Blake Ayshford, Solomone Kata, Ken Maumalo, Thomas Leuluai, Shaun Johnson, Jacob Lillyman, Issac Luke, Albert Vete, Bodene Thompson, Ryan Hoffman (c), Simon Mannering. Interchange: Nathaniel Roache, Sam Lisone, Ben Matulino, Charlie Gubb.

- NZ Herald

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