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

Jim Doyle: Kieran Foran's arrival could be 'real positive' for Tui Lolohea

Warriors' managing director Jim Doyle says the arrival of Kieran Foran at Mt Smart could be a "real positive" for Tui Lolohea.

Since the confirmation of the Foran deal on Thursday night, Lolohea's future at the club has come under the spotlight.

The Tongan and Kiwis international has been used as a utility player over the last two seasons but has made no secret of his desire to play in the halves.

That pathway now appears closed for 2017, with Shaun Johnson and Foran locked in as the scrum base combination, assuming both are fit and Foran's contract is registered at the NRL.

Where does that leave Lolohea?

In Doyle's view, with an invaluable opportunity to learn from the best.

"He is still learning his trade," said Lolohea. "He'll learn from the best next year...if you are going to learn things it is good to learn from the best.

And he (Foran) is certainly the best."

Lolohea made 22 appearances over this past season, following 23 games in 2015. After a mostly impressive campaign in 2015, his form fluctuated this year, not helped by an inconsistent selection policy from the coaching staff which saw him regularly switching roles. Indeed, over the past two years Lolohea has played every position in the backline at the Auckland club.

"I'm sure he would prefer to play in one position but that is part of the game," said Doyle. "We weren't expecting him to play fullback but the team gets injuries and it is testament to him that he is capable of playing in those positions.

Doyle also reiterated that the club had no plans to grant Lolohea an early release from his current contract, which runs until the end of the 2018 season, should the player decide his future lies elsewhere.

"Tui is contracted here for the next couple of years and we are comfortable that he will be a big part of the team for the next couple of years," said Doyle. "He understands there is time on his side. He's a young kid. Anyone who is [21] years old realizes they have a long time ahead of them."

Doyle confirmed he had spoken with Lolohea's management since the Foran announcement, and the club was moving quickly to reassure Lolohea.

"We will talk to Tui and make sure he is very, very clear that we see he has a long future here," said Doyle. "He will be able to learn from the best which will be a real positive for him for the long term."

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