McFadden: My faith in Lolohea is unchanged
Despite rumours swirling about the future of talented utility Tuimoala Lolohea, Warriors coach Andrew McFadden has closed down any chance of him departing the club and confirmed he still features heavily in their plans.
The 21-year-old was named on the bench for the second consecutive week for last Saturday's trip to Perth, coming on for just two minutes in golden point as the Kiwi side went down 15-14 to Manly.
Almost immediately following the match rumours began to circulate claiming Lolohea was on the outer with the club.
But speaking mid-week McFadden defended his decision and confirmed his stance on Lolohea, despite again naming him on the interchange for Saturday's Men of League Round clash against the Raiders at GIO Stadium.
"What I will say about it is that I gave Tui his debut two years ago and I thought he was a special talent, and I still do," McFadden said.
"I haven't lost any faith in Tui, this is just a little bump in the road and he will be fine.
"That is just speculation – there is nothing in it – I speak to Tui all the time and have got a good working relationship with him.
"He understands the position at the moment and like I said, we are still well and truly committed to him, so there is nothing in it."
The demotion to the bench continues an up-and-down 2016 season for Lolohea, who has played wing, fullback and five-eighth at various stages, struggling to nail down a permanent spot in the starting side.
With veteran five-eighth Thomas Leuluai departing the club at the end of this season, Lolohea is widely tipped to become the first-choice No.6 for the Warriors next year.
"I have always said in the halves," McFadden said when asked where he saw Lolohea's future.
"No one is guaranteed any position, but certainly [Lolohea] is one of the front runners [to play five-eighth] because of the talented player he is."
In 16 games this season Lolohea has averaged 68.3 minutes per match and has missed just the one game through injury.
Meanwhile star halfback Shaun Johnson also added his thoughts on the situation, sympathising with Lolohea's current plight but stating that he would be a huge part of the club for many years to come.
"I haven't [spoken to him], I can understand his disappointment and frustrations around it though," Johnson said.
"He has got a different role in the team at the moment and he has just got to adapt to it, because everyone who knows rugby league knows he is going to be a big part of the club, so we will get around him and support him and I am sure he will be back to playing big minutes soon.
"I was [used in a similar way when I first made the NRL], I didn't really have to come off the bench as such but in terms of being in and out, I was put through that cycle so I can certainly see where his head is at the moment.
"As a kid it can rattle you at times, especially someone like Tui who has probably never had to go through something like this in his life."