David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

NRL: Five clubs chasing out of favour Warriors youngster Tui Lolohea

Out of favour Warriors youngster Tui Lolohea is being chased by five rival NRL clubs. Photo / Photosport.
Out of favour Warriors youngster Tui Lolohea is being chased by five rival NRL clubs. Photo / Photosport.

Tui Lolohea's Warriors career is at the crossroads with five rival NRL clubs looking to sign the out of favour utility.

Wests Tigers and Canberra are eager to sign the versatile 22-year-old with North Queensland, Newcastle and South Sydney also interested in the one test Kiwis international.

Lolohea is contracted to the Warriors until the end of next season but is considering requesting a release after being dropped to reserve grade following the Warriors round four loss to St George Illawarra.

The Tigers have already snared Warriors prop Ben Matulino and now want to lure Lolohea midseason in a move that would allow the club to release playmaker Mitchell Moses to Parramatta.

The talented youngster has played 52 games since debuting in 2014 and has played every position in the backline but wants to find a permanent home at either five-eighth or fullback.


The joint venture club are eager for Lolohea to play the rest of the season alongside halfback Luke Brooks before using him in the No1 jersey next year as a replacement for departing fullback James Tedesco.

Lolohea does not want to leave the Warriors but is unhappy playing on the wing in the second tier Intrust Super Premiership.

A move for Lolohea could suit both parties as his departure could free up considerable room under the salary cap for the Warriors with his salary set to climb towards $300,000 next season.

"At this point in time the only thing I can say is Tui is still a Warriors until the end 2018," said Lolohea's manager Stan Martin.

"But if things change and he wants to move and the club are prepared to let him go then I think there will be an avalanche of offers from other clubs.

"Five clubs that have contacted me wanting to know what his status is because he's playing reserves."

A return to the NRL side appears a long way off with Lolohea slipping further down the pecking order at the Warriors, with coach Stephen Kearney yesterday naming Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad to make his NRL debut on the wing in Sunday's round nine clash against the Sydney Roosters at Mt Smart Stadium.

Nicoll-Klokstad gets his chance after a hamstring injury to Solomone Kata prompted a backline re-jig. Veteran wing Manu Vatuvei has also been named among the extended reserves as he prepares to make his second appearance of the season after aggravating a knee injury in the round three loss to the Bulldogs.

"He's (Lolohea) well aware of the situation," said Kearney.

"I've said right from the start I'll be rewarding performance and that's why Charnze is making his debut this week.

"I'm sure Tui will bounce back and get an opportunity in the not too distant future."

Halfback Shaun Johnson was adamant the Warriors should retain Lolohea but says he needs to improve aspects of his game to earn a first grade recall.

Lolohea's versatility has seen him struggle to nail down a position but Johnson feels he is best suited to playing fullback.

"That's the thing with Tui, it's a good and bad thing with being so versatile," said Johnson.

"I think he could be a really good fullback, the way he can chime into the line and ball-play and his footwork and speed.

"He's got a bit of work to do there again, but fullback could really be something he could cement himself as and commit to.

"Everyone knows what Tui can do. He knows that he's got a lot of work to do to warrant selection every week in first grade.

"There's no doubting his ability and the impact he can have on a football team so I'm sure we'll see him playing first grade soon."

Lolohea is consulting family ahead of making some tough decisions and his management are expected to approach the club in the coming days to try and resolve the situation.

- NZ Herald

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