David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

League: Lolohea loving international role as he looks to test himself in Oz

Utility Tui Lolohea has been struggling to cope with his roles at the Warriors and is talking to Australian NRL clubs. Photo / Photosport
Utility Tui Lolohea has been struggling to cope with his roles at the Warriors and is talking to Australian NRL clubs. Photo / Photosport

Out-of-favour Warriors utility Tui Lolohea is enjoying a break from reserve grade and looking forward to playing in his preferred position of five-eighth for Tonga Mate Ma'a in tonight's Pacific test against the Fiji Bati in western Sydney.

The Campbelltown Stadium fixture offers some respite for the 22-year-old who has been granted permission to look for another NRL club after spending the last month playing on the wing for the Warriors second tier Intrust Super Premiership side.

It's understood Lolohea met with Wests Tigers hierarchy on Thursday about potentially making a mid-season transfer to the joint venture club while the Raiders and Cowboys are also keen on his services.

Having played every position in the backline at the Warriors since his NRL debut in 2014, the Marist Saints junior is looking for a new start and hoping to establish himself as either five-eighth or fullback.

He is eager to show what he is capable of at international level alongside halfback and Warriors club mate Ata Hingano.

"I'm pretty excited about this opportunity to be out in the halves where I love playing and I'm really keen to get out there," said Lolohea.

"It has been tough [at the Warriors]. I probably haven't shown it much around the club.

"I was a bit shocked in the beginning with a couple of games in reserve grade and then recently in the last couple of games I've started to find my feet again.

"I'm letting my manager take care of all the business for me and I'm just worrying about playing footy."

Lolohea is torn by the prospect of leaving the Warriors having called the club home since he was first recruited as a 14-year-old.

A roller-coaster season saw him lose confidence last year after he was shuffled through various positions and dropped to the bench and reserve grade following some tough times in the No1 jersey.

He doesn't hold any grudges towards former Warriors coach Andrew McFadden or new coach Stephen Kearney and admits he has failed to handle some of the challenges that came his way.

And while he is nervous about the prospect of starting over in Australia, Lolohea feels the change of environment could be the best thing for him on and off the field.

"I love the club and have been there for eight years now and it's always been home for me," he said.

"It's just been unfortunate with all of the positions I can play. They've put me in different positions because I can play there.

"I've always thought it's good if you can be a utility but it can also be a bad thing at the same time.

"It's tough, the pressure and playing all of those positions, I didn't deal with it very well and it kind of affected me a little.

"It's not just the club - it's also myself and the way I dealt with it - but you've got to learn things the hard way sometimes.

"I'm a bit nervous. It's a pretty big decision to leave home after 22 years. I have been really comfortable at home so it might be good for me to get outside my comfort zone and try something else."

- NZ Herald

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