The Warriors welcome back "Mr Fix It" tonight. Tui Lolohea has struggled to become an established NRL first grader at the Warriors since his debut in 2014 but is invariably the player coaches turn to when they have selection dilemmas.

After being initially dropped for Manu Vatuvei, Lolohea will step in for Roger Tuivasa-Sheck against the Bulldogs in Dunedin, after the Warriors captain was ruled out due to ongoing concussion symptoms from his head knock in the 26-10 loss to the Storm.

It's a familiar scenario for Lolohea. He played 10 games in the No1 jersey last year, after Tuivasa-Sheck's season ending knee injury in Wellington. Lolohea was also the deputy for Sam Tomkins in 2015, filling in for the Englishman on 11 occasions.

And when Shaun Johnson snapped his ankle that season, Lolohea was thrown the No7 jersey for five consecutive games.


Lolohea made his 50th NRL appearance last week, but it's hard to imagine there has been anyone in Warriors history who has worn more jersey numbers in such a short space of time, as the 22-year-old has played every position in the backline.

Lance Hohaia is always trumpeted as the classic Warriors utility, but he started his career in the halves and after floating around the backline and even hooker became a first choice fullback for Ivan Cleary for several seasons.

Lolohea is yet to find his niche. He came through the grades at five-eighth and was at pivot for Stacey Jones' championship-winning NYC team in 2014.

But he has started only one NRL match in the No6 jersey, against the Bulldogs in Wellington last year, but lasted just 20 minutes before he was switched to fullback as Tuivasa-Sheck limped off the field.

Lolohea remains an unfulfilled talent. He's an intuitive, off the cuff player, who has enjoyed some sparkling moments in the NRL.

Tuimoala Lolohea scores for the Warriors. Photo / Fiona Goodall / photosport
Tuimoala Lolohea scores for the Warriors. Photo / Fiona Goodall / photosport

But he also appears as someone who is still learning his trade, still coming to terms with the unrelenting demands of the competition, especially on the mental side.

And there is no doubt that the events of last year damaged his confidence, especially during a strange sequence of games mid-season. After being part of a tough home win over the Roosters, he was infamously a last-minute switch for Jonathan Wright in the next match at Cronulla.

Lolohea sat on the interchange bench for the entire 80 minutes against Manly in Perth, returned for a few matches, then had a horror night against the Rabbitohs at Mt Smart, with his errors contributing to the Warriors' demise

There was a sense late last year that Lolohea had had enough of the positional merry-go-round at Mt Smart, and was ready to try his luck elsewhere in the NRL. But a frank conversation with coach Stephen Kearney has cemented his desire to stay - for this year, at least.

"I talked to Mooks [Kearney] and I just had to accept it," said Lolohea. "I love the club and I have been here a while and I didn't want to leave New Zealand yet.

"I'm pretty happy about being at the club ... I know there has been a lot going on. I want to enjoy this year and do well, and then I will look back on how I have done after that."