Lolohea ready for the halves: McFadden
Warriors coach Andrew McFadden believes the time is right to transition Tuimoala Lolohea into the halves, and is prepared to be patient as he develops into a playmaker at NRL level.
Calls for Lolohea to be included in the halves had been persistent throughout the opening six rounds of the competition, and following a 34-18 home loss to the Sea Eagles last week McFadden made the call to drop veteran Jeff Robson in favour of 21-year-old Lolohea.
"It has been [on my mind for a few weeks]… it has been at the back of my mind [in terms of] when the right time was, and I just felt like we needed this change," McFadden said.
"I was never sure on when exactly it would happen.
"Tui has had some really good performances on the wing and I think he is ready to step into the halves."
McFadden confirmed he was committed to the move long-term, despite expecting some initial struggles as Lolohea, who has only 32 NRL games under his belt, adjusts to his new role.
"There is going to be some disjointedness and it's going to take a bit of time to get the cohesion in our spine," McFadden said.
"I have to give him time, we are going to try and keep it pretty simple for him.
"The way Tui is playing he has really got some confidence up with his running game which was what we wanted, and now we can throw him in there and get his hands on the ball more often."
For Robson – who signed from the Sharks at the end of last year – it has been a torrid start to life in Auckland, as he struggled to create anything of significance in attack with just one line-break assist and one try assist in six games.
The 33-year-old halfback also made seven handling errors in that same period, the equal-most of any player in the competition.
But ahead of the Round 7 clash with the Bulldogs in Wellington, Warriors utility Thomas Leuluai said he felt some sympathy for Robson, who has been rested altogether this weekend to allow him to recover from some niggling injuries.
"I don't know if he was playing too bad to be honest, I don't make those calls but it was obviously unfortunate," Leuluai told NRL.com.
"He is a great player and I thought he was doing some solid stuff for us, but obviously our coach felt it was time for a change.
"But I think it is a great move to shift Tui… he has been playing really well on the wing but he is naturally a half and has played there a lot.
"He will have to change a little bit in terms of how he plays, but the things that he does well on the wing he can incorporate into the halves."
The Warriors have some other major changes to their squad for this week as well, with Bodene Thompson returning from a rib injury to start in the second-row, and David Fusitu'a named on the wing for his first NRL game of 2016.