Warriors coach Andrew McFadden has dismissed talk that Tui Lolohea is unhappy and considering his career options and insists he remains a big part of his plans for the club's future.
McFadden admitted the 21-year-old Kiwis international was frustrated after playing only two minutes in extra time during last week's golden point loss to Manly but was adamant there are no issues between the pair.
Lolohea has again been chosen on the bench for Saturday's away clash with Canberra and is forced to bide his time with competition high for a starting berth in the outside backs.
Despite receiving minimal game time in the Perth match McFadden says the talented youngster understands his current role and remains committed to the Auckland-based club.
"No, that's just speculation, there's nothing in it," McFadden said of rumours Lolohea was on the outer at Mt Smart Stadium.
"Most definitely, he was frustrated, and I understand that. It's not something I like to do but at the time I made the decision.
"He probably doesn't like it but I made the decision that was best for the team at the time. Certainly it's not a reflection of Tui.
"I speak to Tui all the time. I've got a good working relationship with him, he understands the position at the moment.
"Tui's very committed to the club and we're committed to Tui. We've just got to try to handle all the speculation."
McFadden is frustrated the matter has become a big talking point on both sides of the Tasman following reports Lolohea's manager received text messages from three different clubs during Saturday night's match, and by the end of the weekend had five clubs offering him a starting spot.
Considered one of the brightest young talents in the game, Lolohea has undoubted attacking brilliance and peerless ability in broken play, however concerns remain over facets of his defensive game.
The perception Lolohea is being unfairly treated or mismanaged bythe Warriors was not helped when Fox Sports' commentators failed to explain his injection in the 81st minute came as a result of an injury to Blake Ayshford, with viewers left with the impression that McFadden thrust him in at the last moment with the task of winning the game for his side.
The disapproval of McFadden's selection strategy grew louder on Fox's Monday Night with Matty Johns with journalist Lara Pitt commenting the situation "seems ridiculous to everyone" and show host Johns strongly questioning McFadden's thinking.
"It's a little frustrating I must admit," McFadden said of the criticism. "I guess they've got a lot of media content to fill and that's the way they do it these days.
"It's certainly been a mountain out of a molehill. Every player goes through struggles or setbacks and this is all it is. There's nothing sinister or anything else about it.
"What I will say is, I gave Tui his debut two years ago and I thought he was a special talent and I still do so I haven't lost any faith in Tui. This is just a little bump in the road. He'll be fine."
Having met with Lolohea last week to offer assurances he remained a part of his plans, McFadden then contacted his player's manager on Monday morning to reinforce his intent to further develop the Marist Saints junior.
McFadden maintains Lolohea's long-term future is in the halves but said no player was guaranteed a place in the side this season or next year.
"It was probably a reactive thing to do but at the end of the day with all of the speculation I just wanted to make sure that he was comfortable with the club's position.
"Tui's ok with it so there's no problem.
"No one is guaranteed any position but certainly he's one of the front runners (for a spot in the halves) because of the talented player he is."
Meanwhile, McFadden is today accompanying prop Charlie Gubb to Sydney where he will front tonight's judiciary hearing facing a seven-week ban for a shoulder charge on Manly forward Darcy Lussick.
Gubb was issued a grade two charge for the outlawed tackle technique by the NRL's match review committee but the Warriors remain hopeful of having the charge downgraded and the penalty reduced to three weeks.