Tuimoala ready to take fullback role
The Warriors were dealt a blow this week with news fullback Sam Tomkins will miss up to six rounds with a partial tear of the posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
It is the latest injury to add to a growing casualty ward which already contains big names Konrad Hurrell, Ngani Laumape, David Fusitu'a and Glen Fisiiahi, and comes at a time when Tomkins was showing glimpses of his best footy since arriving in the Telstra Premiership.
Aside from the England international's exceptional communication skills, the New Zealand side will be without a crucial cog in their attack which put 22 points on the Eels in as many minutes last Saturday.
But from one player's misfortune comes another's opportunity, and the Warriors have no doubt 20-year-old Tuimoala Lolohea will be up for the job against the Broncos at Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday.
"Obviously it is very disappointing to lose Sam, but Tui certainly gets his opportunity," coach Andrew McFadden said.
"He is a naturally confident sort of person so I think keeping it simple for Tui is the best thing.
"I think it's a pretty simple message for Tui and that is to back himself.
"That's what we expect in our group, anyone who comes in and puts on the jumper needs to do the job.
"We certainly will lose a little bit, Sam has a lot of experience there and the high level skill he can produce is something we will have to adapt to."
Tomkins has averaged 95 running metres, two line-break assists, two tackle breaks and a try assist in his one and half games in 2015.
His relationship with Ryan Hoffman, who he played with at Wigan in 2011, and fellow new recruit Bodene Thompson, had helped tighten up the side's often porous edge-defence.
Tomkins also acts as a calming influence for halves Shaun Johnson and Chad Townsend in attack.
Replicating that skillset would be an intimidating prospect for most players lining up in just their seventh NRL game, but Lolohea doesn't seem to do nervous.
"Playing 80 minutes in all of the games this year means my confidence is getting bigger and bigger," the former Junior Warriors star told NRL.com.
"I am feeling more confident now that the first three rounds have gone.
"I have to go out there and do the job, that's the main thing and I am looking forward to Sunday.
"There are a couple of things positionally and getting the ball on the run [which I can improve on].
"Picking sides to stand and using my vision more, looking for any opportunity."
Playing the game itself comes naturally for Lolohea, who possesses quick feet and a step similar to his idol and fellow home-grown Warrior, Johnson.
But first-grade requires more than that, and picking up the communication aspect is proving a little tougher.
"I got hammered at training by Ryan Hoffman this week [for not talking enough]," Lolohea said.
"I guess I am just not as loud on the field as Sammy, I need to be more vocal and that's something I need to work on.
"It's my job to tell Shaun and Chad where the opportunity is and for me to be there."
Lolohea averages 144 metres per game with 4.3 line breaks, and has been an NRL Fantasy revelation with a 40.7 point average.