Rising Warriors star not yet the finished article but not that far away either.

It's time for some perspective on the Tui Lolohea situation. It seems to be spinning out of control, mainly driven by Australian pundits and media.

Why the likes of Matthew Johns, Greg Alexander and Braith Anasta - who are just ex-players with an opinion and have no coaching background - are given so much credence on this side of the Tasman is sometimes hard to understand.

It's better to stick to the facts. The Lolohea controversy has been fuelled by two coaching decisions by Andrew McFadden. The first was the late switch ahead of the Sharks game in round 16, with Jonathan Wright coming in ahead of Lolohea. Wright had a poor game, with several glaring errors, but even without those he should never, in any circumstances, be picked ahead of the likes of Lolohea, Ken Maumalo or David Fusitua. McFadden can be cautious and this was a conservative selection that backfired.

The second occurred in Perth last Saturday. There is an argument that Lolohea should have taken the field in the final quarter rather than Jazz Tevaga. Whether he was a straight swap for Manu Vatuvei, or put into the halves, with Thomas Leuluai shifting to loose forward, Lolohea was the kind of player who could have broken that game open.


Understandably, like any ambitious player, Lolohea was upset. That was why, as the Herald revealed this week, he sought a private meeting with McFadden last Monday.

At the moment, he is a victim of circumstance - with Fusitua and Ken Maumalo in career-best form - and his versatility. But he has no desire to play anywhere other than Mt Smart, though that could change depending how the rest of the season plays out. And the coaching staff retain faith in Lolohea.

He's been asked to work on his defence and other aspects of his game but Lolohea is seen as a player of great potential. This is not another Konrad Hurrell or Feleti Mateo situation, where the club hierarchy decided there were attitude issues beyond repair.

Lolohea is not yet the finished article but is not that far away. He's waiting for his chance, which could come any time with injuries or loss of form.

Shaun Johnson can relate to Lolohea's situation, having endured a longer than expected wait for his first grade debut. He came into the NRL squad at the end of 2009 but didn't debut until mid-2011.

"I can understand his disappointment and frustrations around it, for sure," said Johnson. "[Back then] I didn't have to come off the bench that much but in terms of that 'in and out' [cycle], I was kind of put through that. I can see where his head is at, especially someone like Tui, who's never had to go through this kind of thing in his life."

Johnson is backing his teammate to emerge stronger from the experience, and has no doubts about his long-term future at the club.

"He's got a different role in the team at the moment and has to adapt to it," said Johnson. "Everyone who knows rugby league knows he is going to be a big part of this club.

"We will get around him, we will support him and I'm sure you'll see him back playing more minutes soon ... he will be better for it."