RTS signing throws Lolohea a curve-ball
Talk this week at the New Zealand Warriors has been all about two fullbacks named Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Sam Tomkins.
Following news that Tomkins will be leaving at the end of the season due to homesickness, and Tuivasa-Sheck arriving on a three-year deal in his place, there was one name which barely raised a mention.
Yet the announcement is set to affect him as much as anyone.
For three games this season Tuimoala Lolohea has been the man called upon by coach Andrew McFadden to fill the custodian role while Tomkins has been injured, and the 20-year-old has made no secret of his desire to play the position long term.
With Tomkins' contract due to expire at the end of next year Lolohea was eyeing another season of learning off the English international before taking over as fulltime fullback in 2017.
Instead he looks likely to spend another three years at least stuck behind Tuivasa-Sheck, leaving wing, centre or the halves as his only option at the Warriors for the foreseeable future.
"I'm not too worried about that at the moment, just trying to play good footy and finish the season and see what happens from there," Lolohea told NRL.com.
"Probably at fullback [is my preferred position], I like it at the back and it's a position I like playing with kicks returns and stuff like that.
"It has been my favourite so far."
Growing up in Auckland, Lolohea knew Tuivasa-Sheck well through footy, going head to head with him at college level in their teenage years.
He has no doubt that the signing is a quality one, but admitted he was surprised to hear the news mid-week.
"I know Roger, he is a good young bloke and it will be good to have him come home," Lolohea said.
"He will be excited to come home to his family and stuff and will be looking forward to it.
"It's a good buy and Cappy (McFadden) seems pretty confident in him.
"I think everyone was a bit surprised, there were rumours going around but I didn't hear anything about him [Tuivasa-Sheck].
"I was pretty shocked to hear it but that's none of my business.
"I didn't notice much [difference with Tomkins], he is in one of my groups for training and he always seemed happy around us.
"But you didn't always get to see Sam behind the scenes so anything could have been happening."
Earlier in the week McFadden had shared his delight in signing Tuivasa-Sheck, who last weekend became just the 13th player in Telstra Premiership history to run for over 300 metres in a game.
"We think we have got a good one there," McFadden said.
"It's a pretty critical position, fullback, so having someone like Roger take over that role is pretty fair.
"Sam and Roger are pretty different styles but certainly Roger will fit in to our style of football. He is a dynamic runner and is only still learning the position and he is going to get better.
"It's got to be reassuring to Warriors fans that the future is in good hands."