When Tuimoala Lolohea left the Warriors, it was like a weight fell from his shoulders.
The 24-year-old was a proud representative of his hometown club, but the decision to leave Mt Smart Stadium for the greener pastures of West Sydney brought with it a change in exposure.
Being the only NRL team in New Zealand, the Warriors exemplify the fishbowl effect – wherein every move they make and every result is analysed and scrutinised by fans and media alike; becoming more and more intense as the club has been unable to win a premiership in more than two decades since it's establishment.
Speaking to the Herald, Lolohea said it wasn't until he left the club that he realised just how toxic that environment can be.
"It's always been said when we were here that being here, everyone just hammers you because you're the only rugby league team here," Lolohea said.
He echoed the thoughts of fellow former Warrior Shaun Johnson, who last week told the Herald "there were times when the outside noise was so much, so much coming down, you did feel it", but it was something he hadn't felt since linking up with the Sydney-based Cronulla Sharks.
When asked about the differences between playing for the Sharks and being at the Warriors, pressure was high on Johnson's list.
"It's all I ever knew so I didn't view it as pressure," Johnson said. "But having that scrutiny on you every week ... one week the Warriors win and everything's terrific, and another week they don't and people are saying 'I can't take this any more'. There's not that at the Sharks," Johnson told the Herald.
Out of favour with the Warriors and, he admits, out of shape, leaving the Warriors to join Wests Tigers midway through the 2017 season was the right move to make for Lolohea.
"I was overweight. I was unhappy. I was struggling. Playing reserve grade on the wing probably didn't help. I was off it a little bit. I've lost six kilograms since coming here and each week I'm feeling better on the field," he told the Sydney Morning Herald in August 2017 after his first few games with the Tigers.
He played 19 games for the club between 2017 and 2018 before linking up with the Leeds Rhinos for the 2019 English Super League season.
Lolohea was back in Auckland last weekend to represent Mate Ma'a Tonga in their test against the Kiwis and said while it was nice to be home, he had no regrets about his decision.
"I love it [in England]," he said. "Me and my family love it over there. It's a good little place for us. It's different, but I'm enjoying my time while I've got it there and I'm going to make the most of it.
"[I have] no regrets at all. It's a decision that I made on how I should be in my career at the moment. It's good for me to get away, really; get away and refresh myself, try play some footy over there, then hopefully come back and get another opportunity."
Upon returning to England after last weekend's test, Lolohea was traded from the relegation-threatened Rhinos to the playoff contending Salford Red Devils with immediate effect in exchange for fellow former NRL player Robert Lui, and subsequently signed a two-year deal with Salford.
"This is a new challenge for me and I really want to be competing in those play-offs with Salford," Lolohea said. "They're going really well this year and I'm excited for this new journey.
"The level of footy at Salford has been really high and I think I can get back to playing my best there."