Johnson injury gives Lolohea his chance

While news that Shaun Johnson will likely miss Sunday's clash against the Raiders was about the worst imaginable for Warriors fans, it presents another fantastic opportunity for rookie half Tuimoala Lolohea to stake his claim in the NRL.

For the second week in a row Johnson is likely to remain on the sidelines with a groin injury, after aggravating it at training on Thursday morning.

That will likely mean veteran Thomas Leuluai will start at halfback, with Lolohea set to earn his second NRL cap off the bench.

It makes a tough away trip even tougher for the New Zealanders, but Lolohea says he will embrace the chance after originally being named as one of the players who would drop off a six-man interchange.

"They tell me to prepare like I am going to play, I am preparing so if the opportunity comes I will take it with both hands," said Lolohea, who scored 22 tries in 28 games for the Junior Warriors last year.

"I was quite happy with how I went last week, it was good to get out there.

"In my head I was just focussed on the game, but I was also thinking about how it had finally come true.

"I was quite nervous sitting on the bench, I kept standing up and my hands were clammy, but as soon as I got on the field I got into the game."

At just 19 Lolohea is still young enough to play in the Holden Cup and in 2014 he has made appearances in all three of the Warriors' teams.

He had to wait almost 60 minutes before entering the field against the Sea Eagles, and during that time had to reflect on how far he had come.

After losing mum Rachel 18 years ago, Lolohea has been raised by dad Paul alone, and credits him for encouraging the NRL dream.

"My dad has been there for me all my life and been there pushing me to play footy.

"He tells me what I need to work on and what is going good and bad.

"He had to go somewhere after the game so I didn't get much time to talk to him, but it was good to see him afterwards."

Meanwhile Warriors coach Andrew McFadden suggested the playmaking set-up would be the same as last week's, with Lolohea unlikely to be pushed into a starting role at this stage.

"I think it will be fairly similar to last week, it was a bit of a baptism of fire for 'Tui', but he did a really good job. It certainly gives me a confidence to potentially give him some more time," McFadden said.

 "We have some experience there in Thomas and he will probably start the game."

Since Johnson's debut in 2011 the Warriors have played four games without the Kiwi international and won none, but that wouldn't encourage McFadden to hurry him back and risk further damage.

"He is too important to us long term and is the type of athlete who needs to be 100 per cent; he is built on speed and power and if that groin is not 100 per cent it will affect his performance."

"This one seems to be potentially a little tear. We thought he was travelling well but obviously it wasn't as good as we thought; we won't take any chances of him."

Other players carrying noticeable knocks this week were winger Manu Vatuvei and back-rower Ben Henry, but McFadden said they would be good to go.

"That's just Round 21, it's been a tough year and there are a few bumps and bruises there, but we are managing them pretty well."