Taylor backs Lolohea to fire
Elijah Taylor expects new teammate Tuimoala Lolohea to flourish at his new club after he was granted an immediate release from the Warriors to join the Wests Tigers on a deal that will keep him in black and gold until the end of 2019.
Regarded as one of the most dynamic players in the game, the 22-year-old struggled to make an impression on new Warriors coach Stephen Kearney with Lolohea restricted to just four NRL appearances in the opening 12 rounds of the season.
The talented playmaker has called the Intrust Super Premiership home for the past few weeks but after a frustrating couple of months has earned a release from his contract and is set to start this weekend's game against the Dragons at five-eighth.
Taylor went through the same thing last year at the Panthers where he managed just two NRL appearances under new coach Anthony Griffin before he was dropped to reserve grade.
The hard-working lock forward brokered a deal to leave Penrith and started afresh at the Tigers where he has been one of their most consistent performers ever since.
"It will be a good opportunity for him because I know how it feels to play reserve grade when you know you're capable of playing first grade but you're not getting the opportunity," Taylor told NRL.com.
"That's what I went thought last year, and I know when I came to the Tigers and got that chance again to play first grade, it's hard to put into words what a difference it made.
"You feel fresh, you get your hunger back and you want to earn the respect of the new guys you're playing with so straight away you've got motivation to help you get through the first few days in a new environment.
"Sometimes you're stuck in reserves and you're kicking stones because you're playing well but no one really cares because that's what's expected of you because you're a first-grader.
"It's mentally very tough to get up for reserve grade games, so I know Tui will be jumping out of his skin to get an opportunity in the halves, which is where I think he belongs."
Running out for a new team on the back of limited preparation won't be an easy feat, but Taylor has backed his new teammate to get the job done after impressing him during Monday's training session.
"It's pretty basic as a forward because your job is just to make metres and create space for your halves, but it's a bit different for the playmakers," he said.
"I'm not in the best position to talk about what halves go through, but if he does the basics well – which I'm sure he will – then I'm sure he'll be fine.
"It was his first day at training yesterday but you would have thought he'd been playing with us for a couple of years the way he's fitted in so seamlessly. He's going to add a lot to our team in attack because he's got that X-factor about him."
Tigers utility Michael Chee-Kam played against Lolohea in the National Youth Competition and knows just how good the Tonga and New Zealand representative can be with ball in hand.
"I've played against Tui in the under-20s so I know that he's a freak and on his day he can be a game breaker for us," Chee-Kam told NRL.com.
"I think it was my last year and he was just starting in the NYC and I remember he had really good feet so you had to make sure you stayed square in defence otherwise he'd burn you.
"We had a light session on Monday and he looked really sharp. He was running around at five-eighth on Monday and he was barking out commands which was great to see. He's spent the past two days with the coaches doing a lot of video sessions so you can tell he's keen to learn and fit right in."