Tuimavave enjoys Warriors homecoming
Ahead of his club debut for the Knights on Sunday afternoon Carlos Tuimavave was told he was in, then probably back out, before finally getting confirmation that he would take the field at Mt Smart Stadium.
With captain Kurt Gidley battling to recover from a cork mid-week, coach Rick Stone informed Tuimavave that he would play five-eighth against former club the Warriors in Auckland.
Gidley then looked set to make the trip and boot the 23-year-old Kiwi back to NSW Cup, but ultimately couldn’t recover in time, gifting Tuimavave an NRL start in his city of birth.
"Carlos was in, and then a maybe, and then back in," Stone told media following his side's 24-20 loss to the Warriors.
"He had a pretty stressful week but by the time we got to Auckland on Saturday he knew he was going to play, and he could take some confidence about where he was going and what the scenario was.
"I think he went OK, for sure…he ran the ball and set up one of James McManus's tries with a nice ball to Tariq Sims.
"He was really proud to play in front of his family and friends and get an opportunity to play against his old club, and I don’t think he did his reputation any harm."
After leaving the Warriors at the end of last year seeking more opportunities to play five-eighth, his position of choice, Tuimavave returned for his first NRL game since Round 1, 2014.
After several years in the Warriors system – where he played Holden Cup, NSW Cup and first grade – Tuimavave relished the chance to line up against former Junior Warriors teammates Sebastine Ikahihifo and Shaun Johnson on Sunday.
"It was good to come back to New Zealand and play with my family and friends, I was just happy to get my NRL opportunity, it's been a long time since I played NRL," the former Junior Kiwi said.
"To come back and play in front of my family was a bonus but I was just happy to be out there.
"My close family, mum and dad and brothers and sisters [were all at the stadium].
"There was no point to prove [to the Warriors], I just wanted to play well enough and do my part for the team so I can hopefully play again next week.
"It was a little bit weird but once I made my first tackle it just felt like a normal footy game."
A testing week for Tuimavave only became tougher after four minutes, when halfback Tyrone Roberts left the game with an ankle syndesmosis strain and didn’t return.
That left Tuimavave and youngster Tyler Randell to direct a Knights side who have struggled to score points consistently all year.
"[Losing Roberts] was tough on the team, I think Tyler did a great job coming in and playing halfback, us two just had to stand up and try and steer the team around," Tuimavave said.
"I just played footy, I didn’t change my game too much, just stuck to our game plan and process.
"We did an alright job but it wasn’t good enough."
The Knights will now wait on scans to reveal how long Roberts will be out, while Gidley will be a day-to-day prospect over the next week.